Govt for Public-Private dialogue for ICT sector

Kathmandu / Dec. 19: The government has expressed its desire to hold public-private dialogue for the development and growth of the information and communication technology sector in the country.

Speaking at the ‘First Industry – Government Dialogue: Bridging the gap for ICT growth’ in the capital on Friday, Minister for Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel and Minister for Communication and Information Technology Parbat Gurung and Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission Prof. Dr. Pushpa Raj Kandel expressed their desire to listen to the recommendations and grievances of the private sector in the ICT industries.

The event was organised by the Computer Association Nepal Federation (CAN Federation).

“The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Communication and Information Technology are ready to hear your voice and grievances. Let’s sit together and find ways to apply technology for the advancement of the society and economic growth,” said FM Paudel.

Stating that the adoption of modern technology is key to growth, he said that the demand for a separate mechanism’s creation for the implementation of Digital Nepal Framework was appropriate and the government would find ways to address the demand.

“I would like to urge the private sector representatives to organise a sectoral discussion about the challenges and opportunities in the business and recommend the government for the policy need. CAN Federation can lead the process,” he said.

Minister Gurung said that the government would host a special event to have public-private dialogue in order to find the ways to facilitate the industry.

“MoCIT will organise a summit to bring together public and private sectors together to discuss the challenges in the industry and find possible solution,” he said.

According to him, Nepal must have technology-friendly and technology-enabled business and services as soon as possible and human resources should be produced to cater to that need.

“Expansion of ICT services to the remote areas and mountains. This is a challenge. I seek private sector’s support in bridging this technological and knowledge gap within the nation,” said Gurung.

He also stated that the government would like to channelise the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of IT companies to the areas where there was a need for establishing IT facilities.

Prof. Kandel said that the government policy has conceptulised the IT as a supportive instrument for the growth of other business sectors but no one has thought that it could be a driver of the growth itself. He also expressed his desire to coordinate among the government agencies for the public-private dialogue.

QR campaign in the offing

Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank Maha Prasad Adhikari said that the central bank was planning to launch a QR campaign soon and it would be expanded to vegetable markets as well.

“Our aim is to digitalise the payment even in the rural grocery stories and vegetable markets in Kalimati,” he said, “Good governance index of the countries that have cashless system is good.”

Nine digital payment operators and vendors are in operation in the country.

High taxes

Experts said that the ICT was one of the heavily taxed industries in Nepal which had resulted in higher cost of internet and other ICT-related services.

Purushottam Khanal, chairman of the Nepal Telecommunication Authority, also said that tax in the telecom and internet services must be brought down. He also said that expansion of electricity was fundamental for the development of ICT in remote areas.

Industry leaders said that Nepali business houses use less Nepali software.

“Almost all commercial banks and telecom companies use foreign software. It might be because of lack of high-skilled software, customistion and trouble shooting or after sales services,” said Ram Prasad Dhungana, member of Software Committee at CAN Federation.

Shekhar Golchha, President of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that electronic payment and signature must be promoted.

He also said that the government should facilitate young entrepreneurs with better investment and business environment. “Cumbersome process and administrative hurdles have discouraged the IT entrepreneurs most of who are young and enthusiastic,” he said.

CAN Federation President Nawaraj Kunwar also suggested lowering the taxes and customs duties in order to facilitate the businesses in the sector.

A recent survey has shown that there are 5-7 mobile or computing devices in a household. Devices per household have gone up during the pandemic. About 77 per cent people have access to internet. The IT industry has about 5 per cent contribution to the GDP of the country.

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