Government needs an institution to facilitate e-government – Eran Wickramaratne

November 25, 2022 at 10:08 AM

The government needs an institution to facilitate the e- government program to run one government for the whole country, MP Eran Wickramaratne said in Parliament yesterday while commenting on the vote of the Ministries of Defence and Technology.

The Parliamentarian said that the present ICTA agency was created when President Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister in 2002 when he headed a committee while working as the CEO of a private bank.

Even now the problem was retaining the best people in the field in a typical government service where market rates are much higher than for the senior civil officers in the public sector.

The use of Information Communication Technology is very important as it is a huge export income sector bringing in around 1.7 billion dollars which is second only to the garments industry. The potential of its expansion is much higher expecting a $ 3 billion export revenue to the country by 2024.

The MP further said that the government should encourage this ICT industry as an export. But it has put taxes on it at 30 percent which is discrimination. The government’s role in ICT is very critical and important. The President in his budget speech mentioned his dissatisfaction with the government institution promoting ICT and promised to appoint a committee to go into it while mentioning the closedown of the ICTA.

“Ranil Wickremesinghe when he was the Prime Minister 20 years ago in 2002 having Milinda Moragoda as the Minister of Technology appointed a committee. I also served on that committee while serving as a CEO of a Bank. That was the committee that came up with a program called E- Sri Lanka.” 

“The ICTA was created under that programme. The QR code fuel pass solution was created by the ICTA and implemented in partnership with two private companies. Over 6.2 million citizens are now using this fuel pass facility thanks to government involvement in the ICT program. As a result, ICT literacy has gone up to 35 % now in the country,” said Eran Wickramaratne.

MP Eran Wickramaratne recalled his memory to bring in the Microsoft company to open up a branch in Sri Lanka, stating that when a handshake was arranged between the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Bill Gate the CEO of Microsoft, Ranil Wickremesinghe was in Washington to meet the US President Bush. But unfortunately, before this meeting, the government of Ranil Wickremesinghe was dissolved by President Chandrika Kumaranatunge in 2004. The whole intention was for Microsoft to start up a factory in Sri Lanka and had it been successful the economic destiny of Sri Lanka would have changed. 

ICTA has been involved in the standardization of Sinhala and Tamil languages to be familiar with our users of IT. Now e revenue license system and a host of other e-government systems are in progress. On the side of Lawmaking, much of computer-related acts have been introduced to combat e – crimes with benchmarking to international standards.

On the continuous needs of the ICTA, MP Wickramaratne said that over 25,000 public servants and 650 leaders have been trained to handle the e-government digital infrastructure and the Lanka gateway system. This digital infrastructure has been created by ICTA for the government with the whole idea of having one government together with ICT.

He emphasized that when the ICTA was created the problem was retaining the best people in the field in a typical government service where market rates are much higher than for the senior civil officers in the public sector.

MP Eran Wickramaratne concluded by saying, “ we need to ensure that we have an organization in government to facilitate implementing ICT program with critical people in the saddle.” (NewsWire)