Deloitte Malaysia today held its annual TaxMax Conference in Petaling Jaya. The highlight of the conference explored the overriding goals of ‘Transformasi Nasional 2050’ (TN50).

Other headlines of the conference included corporate and personal income tax and GST, operational and compliance efficiencies in the digital economy, transfer pricing revenue recognition, IRB’s audit on revenue and withholding tax compliance.

The event explored the tax perspectives and planning opportunities in Budget 2018, unveiled analysis and comprehensive approaches to local and international burning tax issues and offered businesses perspectives on ways to maximise opportunities in the current business landscape.

The seminar was attended by more than 800 participants comprising business leaders, finance executives and tax professionals.

Deloitte Malaysia's Country Tax Leader Yee Wing Peng led the forum with a comprehensive discussion on the opportunities and challenges of TN50 in the areas of geopolitical shift, digitalisation and technology breakthrough, rapid urbanisation and aging population.

On the topic of digitisation and technology breakthrough, Yee mentioned that the conventional brick and mortar businesses may gradually be disrupted as the digital economy develops, with e-commerce, artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing increasingly being focused on in business.

While considering Malaysia’s readiness to ride on the wave of Industry 4.0, he stated that Malaysia’s economy has to respond to the changing economic landscape, citing the establishment of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) as a bold play.

“We are seeing our country transforming from agriculture to manufacturing and now service sector, and digital is a major play now. Is our country prepared to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead?

"In the digital and technology space, we have got the headstart by teaming up with Alibaba to create a digital free trade zone. What I and many investors hope to see is a comprehensive tax incentive framework to attract the foreign investors and local SMEs to come in and make use of the platform to sell their products abroad.

"Especially for the SMEs, the government needs to offer some incentives in the form of funding made available for them to develop their e-commerce platform infrastructure so they can play a meaningful role in this space and be competitive,” Yee said.

Yee added, “Secondly, funding should also be set aside to train SMEs to be internet-savvy and fully leverage the e-commerce platform to market their goods and services globally. Many of the products that will be sold on this platform will be aimed as exports to China for sure.

"If the SMEs are well-equipped and game to export their products exponentially, they have to start addressing the aspect of smooth Customs clearance for Malaysian products into the China market, which can be a challenge currently due to its laborious Customs clearance and approval procedures.

"As this is a Government to Government (G2G) initiative, I hope the Malaysian government can accelerate discussions with China for smoother movement of goods when the virtual platform becomes operational in 2019,” said Yee.

Now in its 43rd year, the TaxMax Conference’s line-up of speakers included Datuk Soam Heng Choon, CEO and Managing Director of IJM Corporation Berhad, Datuk Wong Siew Hai, Governor of American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), Datuk Phang Ah Tong, former Deputy CEO of MIDA, and Prof Yeah Kim Leng, Prof of Economics in Sunway University Business School, as well as Deloitte’s own tax and accounting experts.