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1st National Digital Economy & 4IR Council identifies 6 clusters to drive digital economy, 4IR

The first meeting of the National Digital Economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Council has identified six clusters as the driving components in the digital economy and 4IR agenda.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office today, the six clusters are economy, digital talent, community, data and digital infrastructure, emerging technology, and government.

“Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin chaired the council’s first meeting today via a video conference.

“The council is the highest administrative body in establishing policies, implementation and monitoring of the nation’s strategies and initiatives for the digital economy and 4IR,” it said.

The economy cluster will be chaired by Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, digital talent (Minister of Human Resources Datuk Seri M Saravanan) and community (Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun).

Meanwhile, the data and digital infrastructure cluster will be chaired by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, emerging technology (Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and government (Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali).

“A steering committee chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed was also created to drive collaboration between various ministries and agencies as well as the private sector in realising the digital economy and 4IR agenda guided by the council.

“All the secretary general/director general involved with the six clusters are appointed as members of the steering committee representing their respective cluster chairman,” it said.

The National Digital Economy and 4IR Council would take over the role of almost all digital and technology related committees chaired by the prime minister previously, it added.

Besides that, it said all councils, committees and digital and technology task force chaired by ministers, senior ministry and agency officers would be streamlined or merged under the six newly created clusters.

The establishment of this council with an integrated governance structure will enhance the country’s ability in optimising the development of 4IR technology and ensuring that the growth of the digital economy is in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Contraband cigarettes worth RM1.1 mln seized in Kelantan this year

— Cigarettes worth RM1.1 million with unpaid duties of RM6.6 million were seized after the customs department foiled 126 smuggling attempts at the Malaysia-Thailand border this year.

Kelantan Royal Malaysian Customs Department director Mohd Rakbi Mat Saud said the 126 cases showed a 25 per cent drop compared to the 168 cases recorded in the same period last year.

“We found that smugglers used a new modus operandi by bringing in the supply of cigarettes to the state via national waters.

“They would carry the goods by ship via the sea and then transfer them to small boats to bring the contraband into the state,” he told reporters after the department’s get-together with the media here today.

Mohd Rakbi said it was difficult for the department to make arrests and take action against the owner or seller of the contraband cigarettes despite the seizures.

“When the items were seized, the owners were nowhere to be found. These days the cigarettes are no longer stored in business premises or houses but are hidden in places like farms and chicken coops,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Customs seize methamphetamine worth RM1.06 million

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department successfully seized 7,078 gm of methamphetamine worth RM1.06 million that was smuggled in electronic circuit boards for shipment to an Oceania country and detained two businessmen in a raid in Penang and Selangor between Nov 2 and 6.

Customs deputy director-general (Enforcement and Compliance) Datuk Johari Alifiah said based on a tip-off and intelligence findings, the department conducted a check at a courier company at Nyaman Mutiara Industrial Park, Bayan Lepas, at 12.45 pm on Nov 2 and seized eight parcels declared as electronic circuit boards.

“Eight parcels involving the addresses of three senders in Kuala Lumpur were destined for a country in Oceania and our checks discovered 18 tin packs in the circuit boards containing 6,075 gm of the drug worth RM911,250,” he told a press conference today.

Following the discovery, the department raided the courier company again at 11 am on Nov 4 and detained a 29-year-old man together with a parcel also declared as electronic circuit boards to be sent to the country in Oceania.

He added that examination the circuit board by the Customs team found methamphetamine weighing 1,003 gm, worth an estimated RM150,450.

Johari said the department also detained another man, aged 39, in Selayang, Selangor on Nov 6.

It is believed that both suspects are members of a drug syndicate in the country that has an alleged international network.

“Based on investigations, the syndicate was found to have been distributing drugs out of the country by smuggling them in electronic circuit boards to avoid detection by authorities since a month ago.

“The drugs seized in the raids weighed a total of 7,078 gm and worth RM1.06 million and we have traced several other members of the drug distribution syndicate,” he said.

Both suspects, who are businessmen, have been remanded till Nov 11 to facilitate further investigations under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Tun M proposes 10 pct pay cut of high salaries in govt, private sector

— Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today proposed that people earning high salaries in the government or private sector should forgo 10 per cent of their salaries to help the poor during this COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the money should be used to provide food to the unemployed and those without income.

“It is a sacrifice but I don’t think it would hurt them if there is a reasonable cut-off point, say RM20,000 p.m (per month).

“This pandemic is affecting the poor the most. Those who have lost their jobs and the small traders have no income at all. They earn today for today. If they don’t then they will have no money to buy food even. They will starve.

“On the other hand, those who are paid high salaries continue to earn more than their daily needs. Of course, those who are paid high salaries, such as airline staff and business executives who may also lose their jobs,” he said in his blog at http://chedet.cc today in response to the tabling of Budget 2021 last Friday.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir also expressed hope it would be modified in order to become more realistic and people including politicians can support it.

“While the economic situation requires more money to be spent by the government, the pandemic also affects the revenue for the government.

“The budget is for the Year 2021. The expectation of economic recovery is too optimistic,” he said.

Last Friday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, tabled the 2021 Budget with an allocation of RM322.5 billion, the highest in the country’s history in facing the various challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Tengku Zafrul wants EPF to be flexible in allowing withdrawals from Account 1

— Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz has advised the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) management to allow more contributors to withdraw from Account 1.

The minister said he had discussed with the fund’s management today and the latter had assured they would announce details on how to make a withdrawal and who would be eligible to do so.

“My advice to the EPF management is to increase the number (above the target under Budget 2021) and give the flexibility for more contributors to withdraw,” Tengku Zafrul said in an interview on TV3’s Buletin Utama programme tonight.

The request to the EPF was made after listening to the people’s grievances that only targeted Account 1 withdrawal would be permitted.

“Whether to increase, I will let them make the announcement. I have requested that they refine the proposals (based on feedback from Malaysians),” the minister said.

During his Budget 2021 speech on Friday, Tengku Zafrul announced the facility to withdraw EPF savings from Account 1 on a targeted basis. The amount allowed will be RM500 a month with a total of up to RM6,000 over 12 months.

This is to assist members who have lost their jobs, and the withdrawal is expected to lighten the burden of about 600,000 affected contributors.

Total withdrawals from Account 1 are expected to amount to RM4 billion. Eligible contributors can apply starting January next year.

Also on Friday, chief EPF officer Tunku Alizakri Alias said in a statement that details on this latest facility would be provided on Nov 11.

In April, the EPF had introduced the i-Lestari withdrawal facility that allowed members to withdraw RM500 a month for 12 months with a total of up to RM6,000. This facility has benefited 4.7 million members with a total value of RM11.6 billion.

Taking into account these two initiatives, the total allowed withdrawal will be up to RM12,000.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Resident individuals’ income tax rate reduced by 1 percentage point

The government has announced a one-percentage point reduction in income tax for resident individuals for the chargeable income band of RM50,001 to RM70,000, which is expected to benefit 1.4 million taxpayers.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said this was one of the key initiatives to alleviate the people’s financial burden during the ongoing health crisis.

Another initiative is reducing the minimum employee Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution rate from 11 per cent to nine per cent starting January 2021 for a period of 12 months to increase take-home pay.

“This will benefit EPF contributors with a potential cash flow of up to RM9.3 billion,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul also announced the facility to withdraw EPF savings from Account 1 on a targeted basis.

The amount allowed will be RM500 per month with a total of up to RM6,000 over 12 months.

“This withdrawal will assist members who have lost their jobs and is expected to lighten the financial burden of about 600,000 affected contributors,” he said.

He said taking into account both i-Lestari and this Account 1 withdrawal facility, the total allowed withdrawal would be up to RM12,000.

“It is projected that total withdrawals from Account 1 will involve RM4 billion. Eligible contributors can apply beginning January 2021,” he added.

Themed ““Resilient as One, Together We Triumph”, the budget tabled saw the government allocated RM322.5 billion for 2021.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Petrol down three sen, diesel drops six sen

The retail price of RON95 and RON97 petrol will drop by three sen per litre while that of diesel will reduce by six sen per litre for the period of Nov 7 to 13.

The Ministry of Finance, in a statement today, said that the new price per litre for RON95, RON97 and diesel are at RM1.61, RM 1.91 and RM1.68 respectively.

“The price is based on the weekly retail pricing of petroleum products using the Automatic Pricing Mechanism formula.

“The government will continue to monitor the impact of changes in world crude oil prices and take appropriate measures to ensure the welfare and well-being of the people continue to be protected,” the statement said today.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency