The country’s largest software and ICT-enabled services exposition — BASIS SoftExpo — started yesterday in Dhaka to bridge the gap between service providers and users.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the five-day event at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC). About 110 local companies and 10 firms from Denmark and Netherlands are participating in the ninth edition of the exposition themed “Digital Bangladesh in Action”.
Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), the national trade association of software and IT-enabled services industry, is organising the annual event in association with the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology and Access to Information (A2I) programme of the Prime Minister’s Office.
BASIS President Mahboob Zaman, while chairing the inaugural ceremony at BICC, said the government should use public private partnership initiative in the ICT sector, which could be the main lifeline of the economy in next five to seven years.
He urged the government to set up an ICT authority and also demanded fund allocation.
The BASIS chief said the government should continue tax exemption facility for the ICT sector for at least another 10 years for the development of the sector, after the fiscal immunity expires this year.
Speaking as the chief guest, Muhith said among the government’s programmes, the digital Bangladesh activity has advanced a lot.
He said although he is personally against allowing tax exemption facility to any industry, the demand of the country’s growing ICT sector would be considered while reviewing fiscal changes.
“All of us should make a habit of paying taxes. We are taking steps so that taxes are at tolerable level, and nobody gets into any trouble.”
The finance minister said many industries that earlier enjoyed tax exemption facilities have been awarded with low taxes.
Muhith also said his government would also consider awarding dedicated funds for the sector.
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said they hope the ICT sector would also emerge as a billion-dollar industry in future like apparel sector.
He requested the finance minister to take steps to connect Bangladesh with second submarine cable network, instead of relying on one, which regularly witnesses troubles, creating disruptions.
Yeafesh Osman, state minister for science and information and communication technology, said there is no doubt that the ICT sector would outperform the garment industry.
“We have cut the price for bandwidth. We are trying to lower it further,” he said, referring to 31 percent cut in bandwidth prices from Tk 17,400 to
Tk 12,000 per Mbps last month.
Md Nazrul Islam Khan, national project director of A2I Programme, said the government has taken a raft of steps to take ICT services to the people.
He said: “We have already set up information services centres at union level. We have also completed the automation of district administration in Jessore, the first ever in the country.”
“Within a year, all offices at district levels will come under automation. We will also bring all upazilas under the automated system later,” Khan said.
On the sidelines of the exposition, an IT job fair would also be organised, which aims to create employment opportunities for IT professionals with over 400 BASIS member companies. Face-to-Face interviews will be arranged at the Expo venue.
The event will also feature over 20 seminars on software and ICT related issues along with a number of competitions.
BASIS Secretary General Forkan Bin Kashem, its Senior Vice President AKM Fahim Mashroor and GPIT Chief Executive Kazi N Islam also spoke.
The exposition will remain open to visitors from 10am to 8pm everyday. The entry fee is Tk 30. Students, however, will enjoy free entry, organisers said.