Dhaka, Bangladesh
Govt outlines strategy for steady progress in ICT sector

Govt outlines strategy for steady progress in ICT sector

The government has outlined a strategy for maintaining unremitting progress in the country's Information Communication and Technology (ICT) sector toward attaining the goal of Digital Bangladesh, reports BSS. The outline has been reflected in the proposed national budget for the coming financial year when this sector will get a substantial increase in funding for implementing the strategy. "The proposed budget is an outline for continuous progress in the ICT sector", said Zunaid Ahmed Palak as he was commenting on the fiscal allocation and policy statement for 2017-18 financial year (FY18) placed in the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) by Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on June 1. Referring to the increase in the proposed fiscal allocation for the country's ICT sector, the state minister said it clearly reflects the present government's earnest efforts in attaining the vision for the "Digital Bangladesh." For the 2017-2018 fiscal year (FY18), Muhith proposed an allocation of Taka 3974 crore for the Information and Communication Technology Division, which is Taka 2,155 crore more than the revised budget for 2016-17 financial year (FY17). Muhith in his budget speech said with the expansion of ICT in private sector, the government is encouraging automation and e-GP processes in different areas of public sector as well. "Innovative ideas are being implemented in government offices in delivering various services through ICT," he said. He also noted that the government has undertaken initiatives to establish ICT related institutional framework and implement policy reforms. With this end, ICT Parks are being set up in different parts of the country to attract domestic and foreign investments, the finance minister said. In the budget speech, Muhith also listed some of the major initiatives that the government has so far taken to expediting the digitisation process. The government has established "Sheikh Russel Digital Lab and Multimedia Classroom" in 23,331 secondary schools and 15,000 primary schools across the country. The e-Filing system has already been introduced in 20 ministries or divisions including the Prime Minister's Office, 64 deputy commissioner's offices and seven divisional commissioner's offices. Apart from this, around 18,500 government offices have been brought under a single network. The existing capacity of the submarine cable has been increased to 200 gbps (gigabits per second) from 44 gbps. As of April 2017, the number of mobile telephone and internet subscribers has increased to around 13.31 crore and 7 crore respectively. In the secondary level, Upazila ICT Training and Resource Centres have been established and 295 non-government schools have been transformed into model schools in 315 upazilas having no government schools. Computer labs in 3,550 educational institutions and multimedia classrooms in 23,331 educational institutions have also been set-up. "In order to encourage investment in ICT sector, the government has brought down the rate of existing VAT on raw materials and parts need to manufacture and assemble goods used in this sector like mobile phone, desktop computer, laptop and tab," Palak told BSS. The government has removed all the obstacles for development of country's hardware industry by bringing down the rate of VAT on 94 types of raw materials and parts from maximum 25 percent to one percent flat. For only three types of raw materials the VAT rate has been brought down to 10 percent, ICT Division sources said. Apart from these, VAT exemption has been given in manufacture level till June 30, 2019, on locally produced products in order to help the local heavy technical industry to flourish and creating competitive export trade. The state minister for ICT hoped that this budget will help to meet the local demand of technological products in the country.

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