The Sri Lanka Association of Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM), Sri Lanka’s IT/BPO industry chamber, has welcomed the Government’s 2013 Budget Proposals to support the development of the IT/ BPO and knowledge services industry.
The latest Budget presented to Parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the country’s Finance Minister, outlines specific measures to assist the country’s fast growing IT/BPO industry.
Broadband connectivity is the enabling infrastructure for IT/BPO services, much like the expressways for other industries. The cost of commercial broadband is one of the highest in the region and the Budget proposes halving taxes on high-speed broadband services.
Another key enabler of the industry growth is people. Industry growth is limited by the number of the annually qualifying workforce and having an adequate number of talented people coming into the industry is essential for growth.
The Budget proposes to keep income taxes for the sector employees to a minimum. The proposal to allocate funds for capacity building and quality enhancement of the industry will enhance talent within the industry and encourage people coming into the industry while supporting the enhancement of quality. These were among the specific Budget proposals submitted by SLASSCOM to the Finance Ministry and to the President.
Despite the global downturn, the Sri Lankan IT/BPO export generated over US$ 400 million in export income, having grown from US$ 210 million in 2009 benefiting from the end of the conflict. The industry aims to grow to one billion dollars of export revenue by 2016 and plans to create over 80,000 high-paying jobs within the country. The sector is already among Sri Lanka’s top five export revenue earners.
Sri Lanka is emerging as the destination of choice for the global IT/BPO market. In the last A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index (GSLI) 2011, Sri Lanka is ranked among the top 25. Sri Lanka is also featured among the top 30 in the prestigious Gartner ranking.
“SLASSCOM’s vision for the IT/BPO and knowledge services industry is for it to become the top revenue earner for the country within the next 10 years, and the medium term goal is achieving US$ 1 b in export revenue with direct employment of 80,000 within the next four years. All our endeavours are geared towards driving Sri Lanka to reach our national goal of becoming the number one industry to lead Sri Lanka to the knowledge economy,” said Sujiva Dewaraja, Chairman of SLASSCOM.
He also added that SLASSCOM welcomed the support and receptiveness of the Government as evidenced by these Budget proposals and the positive sentiments expressed within the Budget Speech of President Mahinda Rajapaksa towards the IT/BPO industry.
Dewaraja hopes that the Government of Sri Lanka will continue to engage with the IT/BPO industry stakeholders in the years to come, in seeking ways and means towards developing this fledgling industry.