The Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa aims at seeing everyone use IT in their living for greater comfort and ease, says Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
The Minister said so while participating in the launch of the issue of copies of birth, marriage and death certificates in a few minutes in the Polonnaruwa District recently.
Speaking further at the inauguration held at the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, Minister Siyambalapitiya said that there would be a huge transformation in the country’s information technology sector soon.
Recalling the assignment of ICT to a new Ministry and its responsibilites the Minister said: “At the cabinet reshuffle in November 2010 the President gave us several responsibilities. While attempt is made for Sri Lanka to become the Wonder of Asia by 2016, His Excellency instructed us to make the ICT literacy of Sri Lanka which is currently about 35 per cent, become 75 per cent by 2016. Another challenge the President asked us to meet was to generate 200,000 new ICT-based jobs by 2016. Making Sri Lanka’s current IT-BPO industry revenue reach US $ 1 billion by 2016 is another challenge the President has instructed us to meet.
“But the most important challenge given to us by the President is to take ICT to every citizen; in other words, to use ICT to make the life of everyone more comfortable, to make us able to see every citizen use ICT to make his life more comfortable. A collorary to this is to make Government service more efficient by the use of ICT, the Minister said underlining a core responsibility that has to be addressed in accordance with the “ Mahinda Chinthana ‘Vision for the Future’ “.
Referring to the 2012 budget the Minister said that the budget 2012 contained several proposals which were a shot in the arm for using ICT in all sectors targeting national development. “Apart from the specific allocations for the institutions under the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology the budget has allocated Rs. 500 million for the Ministry for developing IT in the rural areas. Accordingly we selected the Polonnaruwa District for IT development in coincidence with the Anuradhapura-based Deyata Kirula 2012. As stated by ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Head D. C. Dissanayake I requested that this programme in Polonnaruwa be launched under the patronage of Health Minister Maitripala Sirisena. I am now going to explain what we just launched today. Those days, I can remember, to get a birth certificate, my father used to get ready two weeks ahead. ‘Whom do I know in the Kachcheri? To whom should I speak first?’ My father would pose questions like these to himself and make preparations for obtaining the birth certificate. Today there is no need for such elaborate preparation. Today anyone from the Polonnaruwa District could obtain his birth certificate not only from the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat but even from any Divisional Secretariat in the Polonnaruwa District within a few minutes. So could the marriage certificate be obtained. A relative could obtain the relevant death certificate with similar ease.
“Those days a mobile phone was a prerogative of the elite. But today most of the population have mobile phones. Sometimes one person has more than one phone. Our population is 20 million. There are 21million telephones in the country. Out of these 17,500,000 are mobile phones and 3,500,000 land phones .
We want to see everyone in the Polonnaruwa District, - be he a farmer, grama niladhari, fresh water fisherman - use this IT tool”.
Participating in the occasion as Chief Guest Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said that it was gladdening that the Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave top priority to ensuring the use of technology for the wellbeing of all..
Speaking further at this inauguration, the Health Minister thanked all concerned for extending the BMD project to the Polonnaruwa District in response to his invitation. Ministries of IT and Technology and Public Administration, Registrar General’s Department and the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) were particularly commended for their roles in bringing BMD to Polonnaruwa.
Moving from technology that enables issue of vital certificates in a few minutes, the Minister referred to the area of both mental and physical health per se. The Health Minister said that the Government had launched several programmes for regulating the use of the mobile phone and for ensuring the use of technology for people’s wellbeing alone. “No country in the world has taken steps as Sri Lanka to ensure the use of mobile phones and internet subjected to healthy monitoring. The Government has by now taken steps to draft regulations necessary for the use of mobile phones and internet under a sound monitoring system. The Government has done so to ensure the highest good of the country’s future generation and to prevent anti-social activities that could take place by abusing new technology. Decrying this abuse Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said: “ It is regrettable that although new technology should be used for man’s wellbeing, many abuse it. Moreover many accidents take place as a result of people crossing roads and driving while holding the mobile phone to the ear. All these finally impact on the Health Ministry. The Health Ministry incur heavy expenditure for providing treatment to a large number of victims of accidents caused by the use of mobile phones”.
Participating in the occasion ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Head D. C. Dissanayake said that BMD enabled the issue of birth, marriage and death certificate within a few of minutes, thanks to computerisation. “Currently BMD is fully operational in the Colombo, Kegalle and Moneragala Districts. In addition it has been introduced to the Ampara, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Hambantota, Jaffna and Puttalam Districts”.
An applicant receives a certified copy of a birth certificate from Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya under the BMD project just launched in Polonnaruwa. (From left) ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Head D. C. Dissanayake, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena