Budget 2018: Unprecedented Undertaking to Empower the Future of Malaysian Indian Community
Towards Achieving the Targets of Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB)
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled Malaysia’s 2018 budget on what was crucially aimed at realising the targets in the recently launched Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB). Themed “Shaping the future”.
For the 1st time in history of Malaysian Indians, funding allocated under 2018 Budget will be utilised solely for the implementation of programs and initiatives which would deliver the targets listed under the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB). For the year 2018, a total of 34 initiatives and programs have been identified to be implemented by SEDIC to fulfil the targets earmarked under the MIB. Socioeconomic Development of Indian Community Unit (SEDIC) will coordinate and oversee the execution of every single deliverable earmarked in the MIB.
Budget 2018 demonstrates the government’s commitment to resolve issues pertaining to the Indian community on a long term basis as following;
1.5 Billion Units in AS1M Investment Scheme for the Malaysian Indian Community
Firstly, a new investment initiative would be introduced to the Malaysian Indian Community. For the first time in Malaysian history, 1.5 billion units will be allotted under the Amanah Saham 1Malaysia (AS1M) Scheme by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) to enable Malaysian Indians to top up their investment in the unit trust fund up to 30,000 units per investor.
RM500 Million to Supplement and Increase Household Savings of B40 Families
To ensure equitable representation in the AS1M investment scheme, especially for the benefit of B40 families. The Government would allocate a special funding of RM500 million in the next 5 years as a special interest-FREE loan scheme to encourage and enable participation of this B40 group. A ZERO interest loan of RM5,000 for the purpose of investing in AS1M will be provided to qualified B40 families.
This investment scheme would eventually supplement the savings of 100,000 participants from the B40 households, particularly those below the poverty line, increasing their household income and savings, eventually creating a social safety net.
This is indeed a major step towards achieving the target earmarked in the MIB, which is to ensure at least 50% of registered poor households to demonstrate increased savings within 5 years of MIB implementation. Beyond meeting the minimum basic needs, it is also important to assist those with income-earning capacity to lift themselves out of poverty in a sustainable way.
Creating Indian Entrepreneurs with RM50 Million through TEKUN & Empowering Indian Women with RM20 Million through AIM
The budget boasts further incentives for the Indian community in business financing programmes such as TEKUN & Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM).
Firstly Entrepreneur Development Centre or TEKUN Nasional will be providing a funding of RM50 million for micro entrepreneurs under the Indian Community Entrepreneur Development Scheme (SPUMI) in collaboration with SEDIC.
AIM itself saw an annual allocation of RM20 million per year over the next 5 years to empower women entrepreneurs. This is a continuation of the funding allocated in budget 2017 that set aside a commitment of RM100 million over the period of 5 years.
It is to be noted, entrepreneurship is a relatively under explored means of income generation amongst the Malaysian Indian community in general: of all employed persons, it is estimated 14.3% Indians are entrepreneurs compared to 22.4% of Bumiputera and 23.2% of Chinese.
MIB has targeted the Indian B40 to be plugged into efforts in line with the Government’s aim of doubling the mean and median monthly income of B40 households by 2020. Furthermore, through these business fundings, MIB targets for an upward trend in mean and median annual revenues of registered businesses owned or partially owned by Malaysian Indians within 10 years of MIB implementation.
This allocation will drive business models that complement the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) in the country. A deliberate strategy to not only enhance market access and open up new prospects for aspiring Indian entrepreneurs, but to also move towards future aspirations in productivity, innovation and competitiveness globally.
Previously from 2012 to 2016, under Special Secretariat for Empowerment of Indian Entrepreneurs (SEED), the unit established to facilitate entrepreneurship among Malaysian Indians prior to its consolidation into SEDIC, has assisted 31,655 Indian entrepreneurs in securing loans amounting to RM 1.39 billion and has trained over 3,500 Indian entrepreneurs through capacity building programs. This unit is now consolidated into SEDIC, with much bigger resources, position, authority and credibility to work effectively within Government to implement the targets outlined in the MIB.
Modernising Tamil Schools with RM50 million to Improve SJKT Infrastructure
One of the biggest issues faced by SJKTs is poor infrastructure. In recent years, significant improvements have been made on this front. Acknowledging the poor condition of the schools, the Government has made a commitment to enhance the state of SJKT classrooms and facilities by allocating over RM900 million since 2009.
The budget 2018, will build more value for the Indian Community by tapping a RM50 million allotment for urgent refurbishment and reparation of Tamil schools continuing modernisation efforts which has been undertaken since 2009.
In the past, the Government has established a unit within the Prime Minister’s Department, Action Plan for Future of Tamil Schools (PTST), to ensure delivery of this commitment particularly amongst Government-aided schools. Similar to SEED, this unit is now consolidated into SEDIC.
Ensuring Equitable Participation of Malaysian Indians in Civil Service Employment and IPTA Enrolment.
Ensuring equitable participation of Indian community in civil service and higher education is crucial. As earmarked in the MIB, to reach a minimum level of 7% employment into Civil Service & 7% Enrolment into IPTA & University Awam (UA).
SEDIC together with relevant agencies will ensure fair representation of Indian community through 7% employment into civil services by strengthening PSD recruit pipeline with effective outreach efforts amongst the IB40.
SEDIC would also ensure educational excellence is achieved with a minimum 7% enrolment of Indian students into IPTA & UA by supporting qualified students with guidance and funding if necessary and improving under performers amongst the IB40.
RM50 Million for Key Indian Centric Initiatives & Programs under SEDIC
Apart from the funds allocated to implement initiatives in collaboration with other agencies within the Government, an additional RM50 Million will be placed under SEDIC to implement key targets identified under the MIB which includes capability-building efforts, skills training, family turnaround programs, youth development, business development, economic upliftment programs for women and single mothers and turning temples into community transformation centres to name a few.
The Blueprint spearheads the effort to uplift the Indian community by its multidimensional approach. These programs and initiatives will cover the 4 main pillars from the MIB which is Addressing Foundations, Realising Each Child’s Potential, Increasing Social Inclusion and Improving Livelihoods and Wealth – Employment & Entrepreneurship. Soliciting diverse perspectives will create the desired dynamic outcomes.
This is indeed a game changing approach which would be carried out in collaboration with civil society groups and other related organisations. Since its inception in 2014, SEDIC has funded RM230 million to over 800 non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) and private skills training institutes. This has helped over 500,000 Malaysian Indians, comprising single mothers, drop-outs, unemployed youths and groups with no access to market opportunities.
As the implementation unit of the MIB, SEDIC was restructured as a renewed push needed to resolve long-standing issues of inequality and social immobility, and to integrate the relevant interventions into mainstream, race-neutral Government delivery mechanisms in the long-term. In its essence, the approach of the budget is to addresses the under representation and under performance of Indians be it in education, employment or wealth, facilitating their growth while promoting fiscal prudence.