As the national IT/BPM Chamber of Sri Lanka, SLASSCOM is encouraged by the Budget 2016, which has taken into consideration the needs of the country’s flourishing IT/BPM industry and has allocated funds to support initiatives that are vital to the growth of the industry.
Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake in his Budget speech said, “To say that the Sri Lankan IT/BPM industry has been operating below the radar is an understatement. It is time to make a statement to the world that the country is in business, and showcase the true potential in the industry.”
It is commendable that the Government has understood the importance of showcasing IT industry’s true potential globally, by allocating sums of Rs. 100 million for promotional activity. The Government, through the Export Development Board (EDB), will provide 50% (Rs. 100 million) out of the total budgeted cost for benchmarking and promotional activity, while SLASSCOM will match the effort by infusing another Rs. 100 million.
The Government has recognised and shown support to the 1,000 Startup Program launched by SLASSCOM, by proposing to initiate a loan scheme through State banks that provide loans up to a maximum of Rs. 1.5 million per viable idea per person, with a tenure of three years. The facility is to be made available to at least 1,000 graduates. These advances will be granted based purely on the business plans and will not require any collateral.
Commenting on the Budget, SLASSCOM Chairman Mano Sekaram stated: “We are encouraged by this export-friendly Budget, which supports the IT/BPM industry’s three main initiatives – first, to brand and promote the Lankan IT industry globally to attract FDI and customers, second, to strengthen the startup ecosystem and third,investment in education. We are pleased that our proposals have been incorporated into the 2016 Budget. The key aspect however, will be the implementation of these proposals and the Finance Minister has agreed to an Oversight Committee consisting of SLASSCOM and Government officials, who will collectively engage in overseeing the implementation activities.”
This revitalising focus on the IT/BPM industry by the Government will certainly aid SLASSCOM in achieving its ‘Vision 2022’, an aspiration that foresees the Sri Lankan IT sector becoming a $ 5 billion industry, creating 200,000 direct jobs and enabling the launch of 1,000 startups.