The Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Information Technology is an authorized government committee formed for the betterment of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Sri Lanka. The IMC is responsible for advising the Government on how to form laws and policies with regard to the ICT industry. The IMC seeks approval from the Cabinet of Ministers at every step of the way.
With the help of its Secretariat, the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), the IMC is required to put together a National Policy Framework. Furthermore, the IMC will regularly review this framework and recommend the Cabinet of Ministers regarding any changes needed to the policies. The IMC also guides and assists the public and private sector in launching any programs by the ICTA.
The Inter Ministerial Committee identifies and develops appropriate standards for creating markets and developing human resources in relation to the ICT industry. The IMC also makes sure these standards are adopted by all parties. Moreover, the committee works hard towards improving infrastructure facilities needed for developing the ICT sector in Sri Lanka. The IMC is devoted towards conducting extensive research in all aspects of ICT and providing assistance with anything and everything related to the field of ICT in Sri Lanka.
In 2004, the IMC handed over the implementation of the all important “eSri Lanka Development Project” to its Secretariat, the ICTA. Upon completing implementation, a results report was released by the World Bank which highlights how successfully the ICTA has implemented this initiative. Furthermore, as of 2015, the Global Information Technology Report (GITR) ranks Sri Lanka as 65 out of 143 countries while the Network Readiness Index shows that Sri Lanka has moved from 2nd place for ten years to 1st place in all of South Asia. These improvements are clearly a result of the “eSri Lanka Development Project”.
In order to maintain these rankings, more ICT efforts are required along with the attempt to create a more business friendly environment for investors. Therefore, the IMC acts as a mediator and communicates with other ICT agencies in the country to ensure that everyone is moving in line with the Government’s overall ICT strategies and vision for the country.
The cabinet appointed decision
Below are the decisions appointed by the Inter Ministerial Committee, explained in brief:
- Based on the goals they have to achieve, the IMC decided to meet once every two months.
- Inefficiencies in the current system are leading to a huge financial loss for the government. For this reason, the IMC decided to pay urgent attention towards adopting a fully integrated and automated system for managing social welfare and safety programmes.
- The government should upgrade its existing network after discussing with, and involving SLT and other telecommunication providers, in the upgrading process. Total control of the proposed network will be under the hands of the ICTA.
- The Google Loon project was approved with emphasis on rapid implementation with an aim to transform digitalization in the country for the betterment of the Government and citizens of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, under this decision, telecommunication providers are supposed to charge fixed revenues for a specified time frame in order to avoid uninformed price increments.
- Establishment of a National Payment Platform for ease of online transactions and the success of e-commerce.
- All government organizations will adapt to a Digital Authentication System where signatures and documentation will be done digitally. This allows for secure storage and transfer of information as well as efficiency in the system and reduced costs for the government and people of Sri Lanka.
- Appropriate measures to be adopted by all Government organizations with regard to preventing cyber theft and security of national information (such as citizen data and passport information). The IMC also instructed the ICTA to design new passports with keeping in mind electronic security standards such as biometrics.
- A data sharing policy was implemented to facilitate perfect sharing of data amongst government and private organizations.
In view of the above decisions, the IMC noted the following:
- National Procurement Policy & Guidelines should be strictly followed
- Processes, procedures and biddings should be open to all
- The Procurement Committee should include:
- A representative from Ministry of Finance
- A representative from Line Ministry
- Appropriate technical experts
- There should be a system for the ICTA to address complaints and forward to IMC if needed
- Special or urgent projects should be reviewed on case by case basis
The Cabinet of Ministers is responsible for appointing members of the Inter Ministerial Committee. Members of the IMC include:
- Minister responsible for ICT
- Minister of Education
- Minister of Higher Education
- Chairman of ICTA
- One board member of ICTA
- Minister of Finance
- Minister of Trade and Commerce
- Minister of Deputy of Investment Promotion
- Minister of Law and Order
- State Minister of Defence
- Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Secretary Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs
- Secretary Ministry of Defence
- Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Based on the requirements of the ICT industry, it is required that the above mentioned members of the IMC be reviewed periodically by the Cabinet of Ministers.
ICTA, the Secretariat of IMC
The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka is the secretariat of the Inter Ministerial Committee for Information Technology. The ICTA was established on the 12th of May 2003. This agency is totally devoted towards assisting the IMC in implementing strategies and programs related to the Information and Communication Technology industry in Sri Lanka.
In addition to the basic functions, the IMC presented the ICTA with a new project in September 2004. The ICTA was given the authority to implement the “eSri Lanka Development Project” on behalf of the government. This project was launched with an initiative to improve the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Sri Lanka. Along with the implementation of this project, the ICTA is responsible for periodically guiding the Cabinet of Ministers regarding suitable changes in the legal framework and policies needed for better ICT in Sri Lanka.