: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Thursday gave the assurance that all recommendations made in the 2018 Budget Consultation Council will be scrutinised and given due consideration.
He said the council, which is an important platform for the public, private and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to give their views and feedback on the challenges and current issues as well as measures to address them, proves the openness and concern of the government in putting the people's interest up front.
The prime minister also described the presentations given by representatives from the World Bank, Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad, Deloitte Southeast Asia, Universiti Malaya and Catcha Group and the participation of 236 representatives of institutions have contributed to a very intensive and productive discussion.
"Among them, Dr. Deepak Mishra of the World Bank has suggested that focus be given to increased productivity and a more inclusive growth, including the addition of women workers.
"The Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad, represented by Encik Nor Zahidi Alias has advocated an economic growth of five percent in 2018 and he also suggested that efforts be continued to improve income growth for urban residents to address issues of urban poor," he said in his blog, najibrazak.com yesterday.
Meanwhile, Najib said he was confident that Malaysia could achieve a competitive global environment by developing a strong entrepreneurial spirit, driven by a culture of innovation and creativity by giving priority to the digital economy.
He said to achieve the target, Malaysia should adopt a more proactive and aggressive use of technology and digitalisation in business that could directly increase productivity.
"Digital Malaysia is given high priority in the government's agenda and we will intensify innovation as it is the differentiation factor that drives profitability and long-term growth," he said.
He further said that he was delighted to receive positive feedback regarding government initiatives such as the Digital Free Trade Zone, which was presented by the representative of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).
"In promoting the growth of e-commerce, the ACCCIM representative had also proposed increasing the tax exemption values on online purchases," he said.
He said that other topics which were also emphasised included the importance of 'sharing economy' and how the concept could be of great benefit to the people of Malaysia which was presented by a representative of Deloitte Southeast Asia, Kavita Rekhraj.
"For example, an Uber driver can earn as much as RM4,300 a month and a host in the Airbnb platform can earn a five-figure income of RM17,000 upon receiving bookings of 60 nights," he added.
In addition, he said, topics related to the digital economy were also touched upon which saw Co-Founder and Catcha Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patrick Grove suggesting that Malaysia became the first country to introduce the framework on delivering goods using drones other than the digitalising of all government services to improve efficiency.
Patrick also suggested that the subject of artificial intelligence be made part of the curriculum in secondary schools to ensure that the education system can produce students who are innovative, Najib said.
"According to him, this is important in ensuring that our students are able to change according to future needs especially even more so to fill jobs that currently do not exist yet," he said.
According to Najib, the topic of education was also much discussed by representatives of the Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM) who had expressed their wish that scholarships and grants for students of private universities based on merit could be created especially for the low-income and disabled groups other than hoping that the government would boost the allocation for vocational training.
"Hopefully, the government will present a budget that is sensitive to the problems of the people and progressive in ensuring the country continued to progress toward TN50," he said.
The Prime Minister is expected to present the 2018 Budget in October.