The 2012 Annual Report of the Ministry of Finance and Planning released on Friday has emphasised that Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the key to reforms in Sri Lanka particularly on service delivery and capacity developments.
It highlights significant improvements made in the ICT sector in 2012 under the ICTA initiated ‘e-Sri Lanka’ program.
“Many service delivery improvements have been achieved in Sri Lanka especially with the aid of information technology. Supporting such advancements achieved, the ICT literacy rate in Sri Lanka has surpassed 35% in 2012 from 8% in 2005. e-network readiness in the backdrop of ICT advancements made through initiatives led by the ICT Agency (ICTA) and all its stakeholders as already noted, Sri Lanka made significant advancements in the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) while Sri Lanka was ranked 71st out of 142 countries in 2011, it improved to the 69th position out of 144 countries, in 2012. Sri Lanka is now ahead of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines,” the Finance Ministry Annual Report says.
Going forward the Report has emphasised the need for adequate flexibility in labour related regulatory arrangements is needed to sustain skills diversity, labour mobility and the productive deployment of labour resources, particularly in enegiszing the IT/BPO industries.
As per the report, the computer and information services sub sector reflected a significant improvement generating $ 436 million in 2012 compared to $ 355 million in 2011 and $ 82 million in 2005.
Whilst export revenues from the IT-BPO sector has grown at 22% per annum reaching over $ 500 million, with the Government investing $ 4.4 million (during 2005-2012) towards ICT private sector capacity building, enhancing competitiveness and market creation.
ICT sector has emerged as the fifth largest export-earning sector providing over 60,000 employment opportunities, with over 180,000 indirect employment created.
As approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, all electronic services (e-services) provided by the Government were required to be delivered via ‘Lanka Gate’ and accessible via www.srilanka.lk, Sri Lanka’s first transactional e-services platform.
Another key initiative was the Online Visa Application Processing Service (Electronic Travel Authority – ETA) which is activated by the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
The ‘Lanka Government Payment Service’ (LGPS) connected to ETA has facilitated the use of electronic payments, ensuring over 2,700 daily visa applications processed smoothly for tourists and others entering the country, enabling easier and faster online revenue collection amounting to approximately $ 12.27 million in 2012.
As per the Finance Ministry Report, other e-services launched in 2012 include the issuance of exam certificates, obtaining copies and online submission of re-correction applications, offered in collaboration with the Department of Examination. The digitisation of over 18 million birth, marriage and death certificates was completed by end 2012 and was made available through multiple Divisional Secretariats.
The Finance Ministry has also recognised growing number of IT-savvy Government officials. It said over 650 Chief Information Officers and over 15,000 other Government officers were given ICT training. An advanced e-Government education program was conducted at PIM for over 300 senior officers.
The Lanka Government Cloud (LGC), which offers ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ (IaaS), enabling Government organisations to deploy IT systems and servers on a 24/7 basis for a nominal service fee, was also launched in September 2012.
The Government SMS (GovSMS) and mobile portal also provide multiple e-service delivery options for government organisations offering e-services.
The outreach initiative Nenasala has been commended as well. The report said over 730 ‘Nenasalas’ established at grassroots level have been setup throughout the country, exceeding the original target of 200, to promote an all-inclusive IT strategy that will benefit the masses including those at village level and in remote areas. Of the 730 established, 690 Nenasalas remain in operation today. About 66% of Nenasalas are financially self-sustaining.
A complete database of land will be developed and will be frequently updated, providing updated information of all land resources in the country, to facilitate proper land management. This will elevate Sri Lanka’s position in the doing business indicator by improving land registration related activities. This project will be piloted in Delkanda, Colombo, Gampaha and Mannar and one other registry in the north.