PETALING JAYA: The RM3.5bil Jaringan Prihatin Programme will now benefit 8.4 million recipients of Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat, with financial assistance for Internet data or the purchase of mobile devices, says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said that this assistance will enable the lower income group to be able to afford and have equal access to the Internet to narrow the digital transformation gap within society.
He said that as the cheapest broadband plan is 1.1% of the monthly gross national income per capita, it is still expensive for lower income earners.
“Smartphone costs also take up a big part of the income of the lower income households.
“The Jaringan Prihatin programme totalling RM3.5bil will benefit around 8.5 million people from the B40 group, and to enable them to own mobile devices or enjoy broadband plans.
“The government will spend RM2bil while telcos and service providers will give RM1.5bil in the form of free data, ” said Muhyiddin.
He said this at the virtual launch of the Jaringan Prihatin held live from Putrajaya on Wednesday (May 5).
Muhyiddin also said that the digital transformation has widened the virtual interaction and social inclusivity space.
“At the same time, it has increased the risk of inequality for those not connected digitally.
“The reality is that there are among us those who are isolated and left behind in the digitalisation of our country.
“The increase in Internet usage also showed that it is time Internet access be made a basic need such as water and electricity for all levels of society.
“Malaysia will be committed to ensure connectivity, in line with the minimum 75% as proposed by the United Nations, with broadband costs of not more than 2% of Gross National Income per capita by 2025, ” said Muhyiddin.
The prime minister said that there are also sections of society who need more time to acclimatise themselves to the digital transformation, such as those in the interiors, the seniors and those who have a low digital literacy level.
“This means that factors such as location, income, age and gender do somewhat play a role in ensuring the Internet access of a person, ” said Muhyiddin.
He said that ITU (International Telecom Union) 2019 stated that the percentage of urban households tend to have twice as much access as of those in the rural areas.
“To handle this digital gap, our plans should involve the collaboration between government and private sectors and focus on accessibility, affordability and skills, ” said Muhyiddin.
He said that there is still much to set up to narrow the gap, especially in the interiors and this was being addressed in the RM21bil allocation in National Digital Network (Jendela).
He also said that this is part of the government's efforts in the Shared Prosperity Vision to enable everyone to have a decent living by 2030.