Malaysia's Budget 2020 will be tabled in Parliament on 11 October 2019, the Minister for Finance Lim Guan Eng announced yesterday (27 June).

He said this in his speech at the 2020 Budget Consultation Council meeting, a platform for the government as well as private, public and non-governmental organisations to discuss current challenges, and measures to address them.

The theme for this year's meeting was "Shared prosperity: Sustainable and inclusive growth towards high income economy". Minister Lim explained: "It reflects this administration’s ongoing policy shift towards high-quality growth to achieve developed nation status.

"Just as important, the growth must be felt by every segment of our society."

We have summarised the topics for HR and employers to note, below:

Encouraging economic growth and competitiveness through digitalisation

Talking about the importance of GDP growth, Minister Lim highlighted that wage growth plays a role. He shared: "To have higher growth, the only sustainable way of doing so is to raise our productivity."

Thus, he added that Malaysia's government has identified Industry 4.0 as the new source of productivity and economic growth. "This specifically means the digitalisation of the economy, and wider application of new technology such as artificial intelligence, big data and robotics in our daily life."

He then stressed the need to digitalise the economy "rapidly, or risk being left behind."

"In (the) 2019 Budget, the government has introduced several measures to catalyse the digitalisation process, especially among the SMEs.

"Among them include guarantee schemes by the government-owned Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Berhad (SJPP), of which RM2bn is to ease financing access for SMEs to apply Industry 4.0 technology in its business. This is part of the RM6.5bn guarantee scheme for SMEs, of which RM1bn has been reserved for bumiputra SMEs."

Apart from the various initiatives by the government, Minister Lim also talked about leveraging on the strength of universities to create an entrepreneurial state.

He explained: "Having a one-stop centre within the proximity of our universities and high-tech manufacturing zones could the key to unleash innovation by providing entrepreneurs and students having great ideas with easy access to patent office, trade bureau and financing office, as well as start-up incubators and accelerators."

Greater social safety for the labour market

Minister Lim shared that the government is evaluating and formulating a new plan to put half a million young Malaysians through "multiple programmes." He said: "This is an important initiative since youth unemployment rate has risen to 10.9% in 2018, from 9.9% in 2011.

"These rates are considerable higher than the 3.4% national unemployment rate."

Further, he said despite the importance of this numbers, the social aspects of unemployment should be remembered. "Being jobless can be demeaning and damaging to a person’s self-esteem. Holding a job is not merely about fulfilling our personal economic needs but it also invests us with a sense of pride and purpose."

These issues and more will be addressed in the upcoming Budget 2020.

Read Minister Lim's full speech text here Photo / Ministry of Finance's Facebook page