Jaringan Prihatin to Invest RM3.5b in Digital Access
The government has teamed up with 12 telecommunication companies to focus on aiding the Bottom 40 (B40) in having internet accessibility. Tan Sri Muhiddin Yassin has pushed the efforts through the Jaringan Prihatin initiative, where it will allocate RM3.5 billion to give fair digital access to those who cannot afford it.
The Jaringan Prihatin subsidy is an initiative under Budget 2021, where its target is to benefit around 8.4 million people who are the same current recipients of the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR). Muhyiddin stated that ensuring internet access and having the skills needed to take advantage of the internet will close the bridge of the digital divide within society. Additionally, the Jaringan Prihatin programme will also focus on assisting the BPR recipient in the purchase and access to a mobile device. redONE is now also offering the Jaringan Prihatin BPR 38 for 35 Gb only at RM38/month.
Muhyiddin has mentioned that the Jaringan Prihatin initiative is of correct timing. The use of the internet has risen by 70%, where the Covid-19 pandemic has also led people to rely on the internet by needing to work from home.
In line with United Nation’s proposition that aimed at increasing connectivity level to 75%, Muhyiddin has urged the importance of the initiative of this program in Malaysia. By 2025, Malaysia aims to have broadband costs not exceeding 2% of gross national income (GNI) per capita monthly to tackle the inequality issue successfully.
The Jaringan Prihatin sees to deliver two benefits to choose from, where they will either receive a device package or a monthly data package.
Alongside the collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry, the 12 telco brands that are participating include redONE, Maxis, Celcom, Digi, Mcalls, Tune Talk, U Mobile, unifi Mobile, XOX Mobile, Yes and Yoodo to bring Jaringan Prihatin to the mass.
The first package consists of a rebate of RM300 or RM180 for a 2 months data package, entitled to parents with children under 18 years old.
The second package is for those without children under 18 years old, where they are eligible for a rebate of RM180 to purchase a device or buy a year of the data package.
The programme was initially announced under Budget 2021, with its original allocation at RM1.5 billion. After more issues were taken into consideration, such as considering the number of B40 families with children, the budget was later revised. The Strategic Programme to Empower People and the Economy or Pemerkasa Package was announced in March with an additional RM500 million allocation after noting the current issues. The 12 telcos involved also added RM1.5 billion, summing the total Jaringan Prihatin amount to RM3.5 billion.
In a survey by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Malaysians only have 50% of its population with the standard digital skill, while advanced digital skills holders are only 25%.
This lack of technical skill has come to Muhyiddin’s attention, where he sees this as a barrier to the community in increasing its digitalisation efforts.
Regarding this, the government has created several initiatives that amount to billions of ringgit to ensure that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia can adopt digitalisation as the nation develops.
As of now, MCMC has aided the government in building 910 Internet Community Centres nationwide.
According to Muhyiddin, the digital hall was developed to help the community arm themselves with digital skills needed for online business and e-commerce.
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