SINGAPORE The Malaysian government has unveiled its annual budget for 2008 containing several incentives for the high-tech sector.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said the government would allocate 12 billion ringgit ($3.42 billion) to local universities to help strengthen their R&D commercialization activities, and take on more students to ease an anticipated shortage of technology workers.
The administration is also planning to amend human resources legislation to make it easier for employers to provide financial support to workers pursuing postgraduate degrees.
Badawi also said that effective Jan. 1, 2008, the government would introduce a new visa category for knowledge workers and streamline procedures for obtaining visit passes at Malaysian embassies and consulates overseas. Badawi also pledged that the processing time for work permits for professionals in the technology sector would be cut to seven days.
The government is also planning further investments in transportation infrastructure and security in major industry centers such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, which last year was the target of a spate of break-ins that saw millions of dollars worth of microchips disappear from the island's warehouses.
The Malaysian American Electronics Industry (MAEI) consortium, whose members include Dell and Intel, hailed the government's proposals. In a statement MAEI said more funding for R&D and an open environment for skilled professionals would bring Malaysia "a more robust, internationally competitive skilled workforce," while tighter security would "increase foreign investors' confidence" in the country.