Premier ready to give tax concessions for IT industry to set up IT parks, train youth

Infotel 2017, Sri Lanka’s premier national ICT exposition and conference, organized and hosted by the Federation of IT Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) commenced in Colombo Wednesday with the participation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Chief Guest.

The Conference is being held from November 1-5 under the theme “25 Years and Beyond – Towards a Digital Economy” to coincide with the 25th anniversary of FITIS this year.

Addressing the gathering Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that Sri Lanka has the highest per capita income in the South Asia region and Sri Lanka now has to upgrade the skills and go to the next stage of development.

“We cannot be a middle-income economy while paying the wages of a low-income economy,” the Premier said adding that the country has to advance to the middle-income level and there needs to be a change in the type of jobs.

The Premier told the attendees that the government will give tax concessions for the industry to expand producing one billion dollars in revenues to the government. He said that the government will give tax concessions to set up IT parks and IT buildings and even for training.

The Premier said the government is recruiting 10,000 graduates, many of them are not speaking English. He asked the IT community to train them in IT with the government funding.

“If you are willing to train, we will fund the training. If you want additional money we will give you additional money for training or additional incentives to train people and retain them.

The PM said the government is starting a new, genuine Bank for Development Finance so that the IT industry will have funds for development. The Premier challenged the IT industry to produce 5 billion dollars in revenues for the government. “If you are ready we will provide funding,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure said Sri Lanka is transforming itself into the digital world with the creation of a digital infrastructure ministry by the new government and the government has taken several initiatives towards a digital economy.

With the measures taken, he said, the government service will go into digitization. The normal government service, which delivered documents by courier will start doing digital documentation as digital signatures are now valid since the parliament passed the needed legislation, he said. Sri Lanka is ready for digital economy, he added.

Minster Fernando said by next year 200,000 school students will be given rugged tablets, which they can take home so that parents can see the devices and those schools will have connectivity.

The Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure has started a project in cooperation with the Finance Ministry under Minister Mangala Samaraweera to connect 2,800 schools with Wi-Fi, Minister Fernando said.

The President of FITIS Kithsiri Manchanayake, officials and delegates of local and foreign institutions attended the conference.