KUALA LUMPUR: Various initiatives including the allocation of RM1 billion to produce a new generation of Bumiputera entrepreneurs announced by the government are a timely step to ensure the well-being of the group in the current economic situation.

The Universiti Keusahawanan Koperasi Malaysia (UKKM) senior lecturer, Associate Prof Dr Abu Sofian Yaacob, said that the initiative, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the entrepreneurial group, will be able to improve the living standards of Bumiputera as a whole, thus creating competitiveness on a par with other races.

However, he hoped that the implementation of each initiative would be carried out with full transparency, trust and integrity, and appropriate and swift action would need to be taken if any errant officers failed to carry out their duties.

“The success of this programme does not rest with the government alone but is also shouldered jointly by related agencies and their officers, successful corporate members and also the Malay chambers of commerce and cooperatives.

“It is also hoped that entrepreneurs who get access to various types of facilities, such as loans and grants, will also be continuously monitored,” he told Bernama.

At the closing ceremony of the Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB) 2024, in Putrajaya, yesterday, the Prime Minister announced several new initiatives for the New Empowerment Agenda for Bumiputera, among which, the government will allocate funds amounting to RM1 billion to produce a new generation of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors, to be managed by government-linked investment companies (GLIC).

In addition, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the MARA MADANI Waqf Fund, supported by an initial grant of RM100 million, which aims to accumulate funds amounting to RM1 billion within two years. His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, has consented to become the patron of the waqf system, and the progress of this initiative will be reported to the Conference of Malay Rulers.

Anwar also announced that the government will allocate up to RM1 billion for the Bumiputera microcredit fund through development financial institutions, such as Bank Simpanan Nasional, Agrobank and TEKUN Nasional, to support Bumiputera entrepreneurs, including women, youths and military veterans, as well as hawkers, gig workers, and food truck operators.

Describing the establishment of the MARA MADANI Waqf Fund as unexpected, Abu Sofian said that this was the first time that a Head of State has led a major programme involving the majority of Malaysians.

“With His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, as the patron (of the MARA MADANI Waqf Fund), then the integrity of the implementing officers will be at the highest level. However, to ensure that this programme is successful, there needs to be a ‘checkpoint’ and continuous audits, so that there are no ‘lagging’ or ‘weak links’ that pull this programme from moving forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, economist Prof Emeritus Dr Barjoyai Bardai said that the MARA MADANI Waqf Fund has commendable goals, but he proposed that the government only use the income from the principal amount or original funds of the waqf fund to develop Bumiputera, including the aspects of education and entrepreneurship.

“It should be noted that when establishing a waqf, the principal (original fund) cannot be used, but the only thing that can be used is the income from the principal.

“RM100 million needs to be saved and invested into RM1 billion later on, then that amount (RM1 billion) also needs to be invested, and the income from that investment can only be used for initiatives to develop entrepreneurs or Bumiputera groups.

He said that the income from this investment should be used to help, among others, the micro-entrepreneurs’ income level, the education aspect of Bumiputera and so on.

The Universiti Tun Abdul Razak Graduate School of Business lecturer is also of the view that the government needs to consider increasing the amount of the launch grant, to obtain a higher amount of accumulated funds. -Bernama

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