The 2019 Budget has introduced a sound framework in building the foundation for the economy. From my experience, working with the country’s technological frontline, the overall transportation industry stakeholders – a key principle that stood out throughout the budget was how technology can be applied within the industry and would trickle down to all levels within society.
The budget solidifies the foundation needed for social upward mobility by firstly addressing fundamental issues such as transportation, home ownership, entrepreneurship, broadband access, etc.
With this, it then addresses the adoption of advanced technology within businesses, for example, through the RM210 million allocation from next year to 2021 to support the transition and migration to Industry 4.0.
Strengthening the technological upstream within the Malaysian economy will naturally trigger a stronger supply chain from within the SME ecosystem and this is how the trickle-down effect takes place.
Through the recent announcement of the National Policy Framework for Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD), the country will map its strategic implementation towards Industry 4.0 compliance. The announcement is timely, as the expansion of Industry 4.0 elements at a national level will further enhance technology penetration within all sectors of the Malaysian industrial landscape.
The implementation of Industry 4.0 is perhaps new to many industry players, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However, the government is committed towards ensuring that Industry 4.0 compliance is an accessible opportunity for all businesses across all sectors.
Apart from the Industry 4.0 implementation mentioned in the budget, an issue that was highly debated (at least on social media and personal messaging groups) was the implementation of targeted subsidy for RON95 petrol.
While the mechanism in determining eligibility and subsidy value has yet to be announced by the government, netizens quickly pointed out the potential abuse that could take place with such a policy.
First and foremost, potential abuse or mismatching of eligibility is not an excuse to not implement something that, in principle, is beneficial. With an ever-growing population and ever diminishing resources, this column has been consistent in its support for subsidy rationalisation, help should be given to those who need it.
Next, I believe that the issue of subsidy “pretenders” can be addressed with the appropriate adoption of technology. While the policy itself is subject to debate, the implementation mechanism can be made more efficient through the utilisation of big data management, cloud computing and the numerous cyber physical technology that has become very affordable.
Let’s say, for example, that the policy takes into account the vehicle make, engine capacity, monthly fuel consumption requirements (which varies depending on work nature), and income levels. Let’s also assume the fuel price would need to be calculated in-situ, during the petrol pump transaction.
The hardware and software to calculate the eligibility as above would rely on several technologies.
Income level data are readily available through numerous government functions such as inland revenue, employee retirement schemes, etc. Monthly fuel consumption requirements can be readily extrapolated based on average route data obtained through GPS driven software.
Vehicle make and registration identification can be performed using readily available government databases, combined with live optical recognition using cameras that are usually already present in most petrol stations.
It will of course take innovation, talent and cost to implement. However, if we look to the future, the long-term big picture can come to fruition if the necessary technological foundations and frameworks are consistently enshrined in future budgets, both within government and private sector expenditures.
Overall, the central proposition of this piece is that, I believe the 2019 Budget has included the right steps in creating a “developmental budget”, not just in the sense of allocation, but principally has potential to realign the country towards a more technological and industrial future.
We all know the saying, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”.
I think the saying needs to be updated – it is much easier to implement if he can learn to fish online, and fish using more efficient yet environmentally friendly techniques!
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Insititute.