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IT for economic triumph in the next generation

From three articles in the past three consecutive weeks we were trying to bring out the significance of the IT sector in the country elaborating various interconnected information from the countries' viewpoint.

The final part of the said series would explore the requirement of organising all resources through a national agenda on the existing infrastructure facilities in order to ride on ICT wave to economic triumph in the next generation.

Electricity

Because of the socio-economic and political reasons the positioning of power generation projects planned by the CEB such as Coal power stations during the past could not be implemented in time. Despite great amount of efforts to overcome the said impediments now they are able to commence the belated but the essential projects, which cannot be ignored as far as basic infrastructure facility required is concerned for any industry. It is a very vital requirement if this government can stick to their commitments as to provide electricity for all houses in the future.

IT enabled Services (ITeS)

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is one of the very lucrative businesses to earn solid money and provide employment in a magnanimous way. The USA and other developed countries are offshoring (also referred to as "outsourcing") certain services from other countries such as India because of the cheap labour cost factor, trained English-speaking professionals and quality telecommunication infrastructure.

IT enabled services are being considered as the next major driver of the technology-led services industry in the world.

IT enabled services or 'remote processing' covers a wide range of services including call centre, data digitizing, medical transcription, legal databases, back office operation, Web content development and animation ..etc.

This is very good for developing countries where you can provide certain services i.e. Call-centers... according to the requirements of the developed countries via online telecommunication lines being in Sri Lanka and virtually in the particular country.

Thus this sector is very potential and Indian government has provided many incentives including a tax holiday up to 2010 and a competitive duty structure. As a consequence several world leaders such as British Airways, American Express, General Motors, Citibank ..etc have outsourced Call-center operations to India.

From last 5-years onwards there is a trend among the students in Sri Lanka to follow A/L in the stream of languages i.e. English, French where their competency is very vital for Call-Centers other than the basic knowledge of working on computers.

We should have positioned ourselves for outsourcing at least ten years ago. But even now, as the western wage rate increases, opportunities for outsourcing are high.

As a matter of fact, nowadays any company or country can make solid money providing these services since entire earnings could be considered as Gross Profit.

Impact on the country

The nation can expect lot of positive direct and indirect outcomes from the IT sector. Software export industry creates job opportunities, higher wages and the professionals who can work according to the international standards as an impact on labour. As far as economic development is concerned we could improve national trade balance and contribute to GDP growth. When we consider the political arena we could reinforce the middle class more likely to support domestic and pro-market policies; income imbalance rising leads to possible political backlash.

Highlights

Availability of the Software packages for a cost effective prices in the domestic market would directly help to use in order to increase the efficiency of the organizations in all sectors for more productivity.

We know the ICT agency of Sri Lanka is carrying out a tremendous role for the improvement of IT sector in the country. We should give our tribute to them.

This article does not proclaim that neither government nor any other engaged parties in the IT cordon did not do any thing to improve this field or concentration is at a very low level but to show the potential to the public and to make a proactive discussion while screening our strengths as I understood.

I do not say we also can approach the same level that India has reached in the world within a few years or so, but we should at least make reasonable endeavours to bring prosperity to the nation within our strength through this avenue, since we have most of the valuable assets including minimum but necessary infrastructure facilities in our hands.

Even though a global outsourcing giant is right at our next-door however I need to reiterate that we have not identified our strengths properly and put it according to a national agenda like India did.

Even if we provide all necessary facilities in this sector we cannot expect anything to happen automatically.

Best example is even though we have a resourceful sea belt all around the country, which is seven times bigger than the land, we are not utilising them properly.

Therefore the countries i.e. Thailand and Korea are caching fish in the deep sea using sophisticated equipment.

Subsequently we import our own fish from them as 'canned-fish' spending our money.

Hence it is very clear that the resources we are possessing are not utilized in a proper manner and we should have a proper mechanism in order to reap a good harvest in this field.

Therefore I hope to bring to the attention of the authorities concerned regarding the following facts.

Approach

We could form a national IT Task Force, and set the overall strategy for the IT sector. They can consider the following areas to develop;

* Identify all resources and infrastructure available in the country and find a mechanism to organize them towards a single direction according a proper game plan. This plan should able to drive the country towards "IT for all by 2010" and we can use this as a slogan.

* Find the impediments for the growth of the IT industry and recommendations to overcome them.

* Introduce an IT-Act based on the recommendation of the Task Force.

* Consider exempting the ICT industry from income tax may be initially for 5-years.

* Start a Ministry for Information Technology as a facilitator, motivator and promoter in the industry.

* Consider to start Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and form STPs under same. These STPs would be developed either through the private sector or as joint ventures between private and public sector undertakings.

* Streamline the IT education in the country.

* Bring down the duty and taxes on computer spare parts, software (i.e. System and application software) for minimal rates.

* Incentives and tax exceptions for local and foreign investors ...etc.

In view of the fact that both major political parties have joined hands at least for a short term hence the country's present political environment would be helpful to go ahead towards an IT horizon with a national policy for the sake of the prosperity of the nation.

Finally I would like to ask the authorities can Sri Lanka ride on this wave to economic triumph in the next generation?

(Concluded)

 

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