Esports funds and online services tax.
At the time of writing, the Malaysian Budget 2019 / Belanjawan Negara 2019 is currently being presented and tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. Two particular contents of the Budget has caught the attention of many Malaysians, directly/indirectly affecting those who are gamers and/or heavy user of digital entertainment services.
- The Malaysian Government has announced that international online services like Netflix, Spotify, and Steam will be subject to tax from January 1, 2020.
- The Malaysian Government will allocate funds of RM10 million via MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation) to support and develop the local eSports industry, citing software engineers and game developers as related job scopes.
What Does This Mean?
I’m a proponent of digital purchases over physical, especially in gaming and entertainment in general. Online services like Netflix, Spotify, and Steam have contributed much to decrease illegal piracy in the country by providing consumers with legitimate and relatively cheaper ways of purchasing content. Taxing them will only discourage people from choosing digital over physical.
However, no details or specifics have been revealed regarding both the new taxes for online services and how the RM10 million will be allocated.
What Can Be Done
Speaking of the latter, I believe that the Government can do more than just spending all that money to organize huge esports events like the upcoming Dota 2 KL Major without first starting with the burgeoning local community.
Firstly, instead of spending big bucks on infrastructure like stadiums, the money should be used to support local organizers by reducing tax, costs, and more. Educate the masses on the prospect of a career in e-Sports; the pros and cons.
Additionally, the Government can give financial incentives to schools and universities to help develop proper eSports programmes for the youth.
We’ll have to wait for more details once the smoke clears, and we’ll have more information for everyone then. Stay tuned on Kakuchopurei!
Update: Razer’s Min-Liang Tan & Kitamen are making a contribution to #Belanjawan2019. Genuine progress via unity, Or jumping on a current hashtag trend? You decide.