Huge transformation in country’s IT – Minister Siyambalapitiya

January 14, 2012

The government, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa aims at seeing everyone use IT for greater comfort and ease, said Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, while participating at the launch of the issue of copies of birth, marriage and death certificates 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 responsibilities 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, President instructed us to make the ICT literacy of Sri Lanka which is currently about 35 percent, 75 percent by 2016. The next challenge the President requested 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.

Referring to the 2012 budget the Minister said it 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 to coincide with the Anuradhapura 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 Maithripala Sirisena. Today anyone from the Polonnaruwa District could obtain one’s birth certificate not only from the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat but from any Divisional Secretariat in the Polonnaruwa District within a few minutes. So could a marriage certificate be obtained, and a death certificate too with similar ease. “Those days a mobile phone was a prerogative of the elite. But today most of the population have mobile phones. Sometimes a person has more than one phone. Our population is 20 million. There are 21 million telephones in the country. Out of which 17,500,000 are mobile and 3,500,000 land phones.

We would like 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 gave top priority to the use of technology for the well-being 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 the Minister referred to the mental and physical health. The Health Minister said that the Government had launched several programmes for regulating the use of mobile phones and for ensuring the use of technology for well-being of the peoples. “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 taken steps to draft regulations necessary for the use of mobile phones and internet under a sound monitoring system. Decrying this abuse Health Minister said: “It is regrettable that although new technology should be used for man’s well-being, many abuse it. Many accidents take place as a result of people crossing roads and driving while using the mobile phones. The Health Ministry incur heavy expenditure for providing treatment to a large number of victims by the use of mobile phones”.

Participating at the occasion ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Head D. C. Dissanayake said the BMD enabled the issue of birth, marriage and death certificate within a few minutes, thanks to computerisation. “Currently BMD is in full operation in the Colombo, Kegalle and Moneragala districts. It has also been introduced to the Ampara, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Hambantota, Jaffna and Puttalam Districts.”

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