By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The country’s budding ICT sector was yesterday looked up to by the government to help reach national export targets in the medium term and was urged to boost its efforts to ensure not only its progression, but also the industries it supports.
In a bid to emphasise ICT as one of the key pillars of Sri Lanka’s economic development and ensure it sustains and recognises its importance, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the need for the industry to step-up and become ‘world-class’.
“If you are working, the government is behind you. I think you have to take up the challenge like the apparel industry. And for their effort today they are world-class,” said Wickremesinghe, implying that similar efforts are expected from the fast growing industry.
He made these comments during an ICT forum hosted by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) that discussed how to further capitalise the ICT industry to boost national income.
With the newly formulated National Export Strategy having allocated a sum of Rs.3 billion for the development of ICT till 2025, Wickremesinghe stressed on the need to exhaust the Rs.300 million allocation for 2018 in a meaningful manner.
The Premier went a step further and pledged to the industry that if the 2018 allocation is spent well, a higher sum would be allocated the following year.
“Let’s see how you perform. We are seriously looking at taking the good performers (industries) and pushing them up so they help the others to flourish.
“We will revamp our efforts based on that and focus on the knowledge economy. I hope we see you asking for more and not leave room for the money (allocation) to go back to the Treasury,” said Wickremesinghe.
Given the dampened export performance witnessed in the recent years, the government formulated the National Export Strategy to achieve an overall improvement in terms of revenue.
While a common and agreed plan was formulated to diversify Sri Lanka’s export products and to reach new target destination, the focus on diversification is to be exercised through priority sectors which are ICT, wellness tourism, spice concentrates, boat building, processed food and beverages, and electronic, electrical and machinery.
This strategy is part of the government’s drive to achieve a target of US$ 20 billion in exports revenue by 2020.