Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the federal government has set aside nearly A$800 million (US$575 million) to invest in digital technologies as part of its coronavirus recovery plan.
- MorrisonÃÂ announced the news Tuesday, saying that the funding is aimed to help the countryÃ¢ÂÂs businesses recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as create more jobs.
- While Australia hasnÃ¢ÂÂt been hit as badly as nations like the U.S. and India by the virus, itÃ¢ÂÂs still seen around 27,000 cases and nearly 900 deaths in total, according to its official figures.
- After seeing growth for a record 30 years, the coronavirus has now tipped the country into a recession as lockdowns sent spending spiraling.
- The US$575 million investment, to be concreted in the 2020 budget, is part of MorrisonÃ¢ÂÂs plan to bounce back from the pandemic.
- In the announcement, he sets out that varying amounts will be spent on different prongs of the plan, including:
- $256.6 million on a digital identity solution that will make it easier and more secure to interact with government services (and later, the private sector).
- $419.9 million to fully implement the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program.
- $22.2 million will go to help small businesses utilize digital technologies through tools and training made available under the Australian Small Business Advisory Service.
- Blockchain technology gets a specific mention with a $6.9 million initiative that will see two pilots aimed to cut business compliance costs.
- Other prongs include the accelerated rollout of 5G and industry trials of the technology, a Ã¢ÂÂregulatory technology commercialisation initiativeÃ¢ÂÂ to improve compliance and support digital technology companies, and an effort to mandate the adoption of electronic invoicing by 1 July 2022 for government agencies.
- Ã¢ÂÂThe Plan supports AustraliaÃ¢ÂÂs economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy,Ã¢ÂÂ the prime minister said in the announcement.
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