Prepare for gig economy, says entrepreneur

(From left) Ringgitplus.com CEO Liew Ooi Hann, The lorry.com CEO Nadhir Ashafiq and HiHomes.my CEO Radzi Tajuddin. (Akademi Harimau Asia pic)

PETALING JAYA: The co-founder of a logistics service provider has called for the creation of gig economy policies that go hand in hand with the 2020 Budget’s plan to develop the segment.

Gig economy is used to describe a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.

Nadhir Ashafiq, co-founder and CEO of The lorry.com, said the current job market trends and evolution of technology have created a platform for freelancers to offer their services via mobile applications.

Companies such as Grab and Foodpanda, he said, offer flexibility and financial income.

However, he said a gig economy does not provide the benefits and protection that come with traditional full-time employment.

“This includes life and health insurance, unemployment insurance, paid vacation or days off and minimum wage protection,” he said at the Asian Tiger Talk series organised by Akademi Harimau Asia last night.

Also present were Ringgitplus.com CEO Liew Ooi Hann and Radzi Tajuddin, CEO of HiHomes.my, a property portal which focuses on affordable housing.

The trio are also members of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), the highest economic steering committee that reports to the cabinet.

It was agreed at the talk that gig economy, especially in the high-skilled segment, could be an answer to the problem of youth unemployment, which is three times more than the national unemployment rate of 3%, if properly regulated and enabled.

Companies currently maintaining permanent staff may find outsourcing certain functions to groups of freelancers more cost-effective.

Platforms such as Workana.com provide for high-skilled freelance jobs on demand, participants were told.

Radzi said housing should be made available to all, especially the youths. He said young adults in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States end up renting units as homes were too expensive to own.

Owning a house is also a means of wealth creation, he said, which is why he strives to make home ownership accessible to the masses.

However, Radzi disagreed with the government’s decision to reduce the threshold for foreign property buyers from RM1 million to RM600,000 from next year to address the glut of unsold condominiums and apartment units, worth some RM38 billion.

He said the initiative will not favour affordable housing. “Developers will now be incentivised to sell more expensive properties that command a higher premium to foreigners.”

Liew said that despite government programmes offering financial assistance, the youths especially were still struggling with their personal finances as they tend to spend more than they earn.

“Personal finance should be strengthened as people need the skills to manage their own money,” he said, adding that the numbers of youths who are becoming bankrupt is increasing.

He also said RinggiPlus.com “democratises” financial literacy education for the masses.