PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) said it is delighted that Budget 2018 is focused on accelerating growth and enhancing the wellbeing of the rakyat as well as in further enhancing Digital Malaysia. Its CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said in a statement, the Digital Economy continues to be a key driver of growth, contributing some 18.2% of Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) this year, and expected to exceed the projected target of 20% earlier than 2020. Yasmin said the RM100 million allocation for the eRezeki and eUsahawan programmes would ensure that the Digital Economy continues to be inclusive for the well-being of the rakyat, and in particular the B40 and M40 groups. "With both programmes going into their third year, we estimate that 150,000 rakyat would be trained in 2018; resulting in 341,745 rakyat participating in both programmes with an estimated total income and revenue of RM544 million according to calculations." A total of RM250 million has been allocated for future education of the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) generation, and would be used to develop Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres and improve Computer Science modules, including for Coding programmes. From the RM250 million, RM190 million is allocated for two thousand classes to be transformed into Smart Classrooms for 21st Century learning to increase creative and innovative learning. Yasmin said MDEC is pleased with this allocation as this would ensure Malaysia's students have exposure to the #mydigitalmaker education initiative launched last year. She said this is a joint public-private-academia initiative with the aim of transforming the youth community from being users of digital innovation to producers or digital innovators. "Our forecast reveals that we need one million digital workers, such as coders, application developers and software engineers, by 2025. With the continuous emphasis on talent development for the future of work, this is indeed encouraging for Malaysia to continue nurturing our bright young talent." It was also announced that the government will assist startups by introducing a slew of initiatives to encourage venture capital activities. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that investors from major institutions will allocate RM1 billion for venture capital investments in selected sectors. These initiatives include income tax exemption being widened to include management fees and performance fees, as well as a reduction in minimum investment limit in a venture company from 70% to 50% from 2018 to 2022. Companies or individuals investing in venture capital companies will be given a tax deduction equivalent to the amount of their investments, which will be limited to a maximum of RM20 million ringgit per year, just as income tax exemptions equivalent to the amount of investments by angel investors in venture companies will be extended until Dec 31, 2020. Yasmin said this is a visionary stance by the government as the start-up ecosystem is the job creators of the future. In addition, the government would also be providing grants worth RM245 million under the Domestic Investment Strategic Fund to upgrade Smart Manufacturing services. This move is aimed at supporting investment and business activities under the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Furthermore, the Futurise Centre in Cyberjaya will be upgraded as a one-stop centre for corporate companies and universities to develop product prototypes as well as to boost innovation. The government will also extend incentive periods for Fast Capital Allowance by 200% on automation appliances for assessment year of 2018 until 2020, while incentives for the manufacturing and services sector for Fast Capital Allowance by 200% will also be given.