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Ease rules to attract more foreign funds in telecom

From left, Rajeev Sethi, CEO of Grameenphone; Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT; Hasanul Haq Inu, information minister; Rohan Samarajiva, chief executive officer of LIRNEasia; and Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of a2i, pose at the launch of a report—Realising Digital Bangladesh—developed by Grameenphone and its major shareholder Telenor Group with the support of LIRNEasia, at Radisson Blu hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: GP/Daily Star

From left, Rajeev Sethi, CEO of Grameenphone; Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT; Hasanul Haq Inu, information minister; Rohan Samarajiva, chief executive officer of LIRNEasia; and Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of a2i, pose at the launch of a report—Realising Digital Bangladesh—developed by Grameenphone and its major shareholder Telenor Group with the support of LIRNEasia, at Radisson Blu hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: GP/Daily Star

The government should relax the rules to attract more foreign firms to invest in Bangladesh, said a report developed by Grameenphone and its major shareholder Telenor Group with the support of LIRNEasia.

The government should also form a well-planned spectrum roadmap and introduce tech neutrality to boost the telecom, IT and IT-enabled services, the report suggested.

The report, Realising Digital Bangladesh, also advised the government to liberalise international gateways to allow one-stop shopping services and ensure the quality of services.

Mobile operators need a clear spectrum roadmap and tech neutrality to offer better services, Rajeev Sethi, chief executive of Grameenphone, said in a presentation at the launch of the report at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.

Tech neutrality allows the use of any technology for any spectrum frequency and cuts the operator’s costs of providing data services.

Only two companies are allowed to lay and sell fibre-optic cables across the country, said Rohan Samarajiva, chief executive officer of LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based telecom think-tank.

The government should form a policy to break the monopoly to help the telecom sector flourish, he added.

A clear spectrum roadmap will help the operators finalise a proper investment plan, he said.

Bangladesh will employ over one lakh young people in the outsourcing sector in the next two years with an increase in export of IT and IT-enabled services, he said in his presentation.

Public-private partnership (PPP) could be a good model to implement the plan to build a Digital Bangladesh, according to the report.

The report also suggested the use of a PPP model to train and build future leaders in the IT sector and expand telecom connectivity.

According to the report, action needs to be taken to connect all schools via internet broadband by 2017 and the telecom industry needs to donate five million free internet hours by the time.

The use of mobile internet technology can also play an important role in socioeconomic development, the report said.

The study will help the government plan its own map for digitisation, said Hasanul Haq Inu, information minister.

Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said they are taking these recommendations seriously and will take necessary steps soon. Samarajiva of LIRNEasia recommended establishing a joint taskforce to rationalise the telecom and ICT tax system.

Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of a2i under the Prime Minister’s Office, shared the same views as Samarajiva’s.

The National Board of Revenue, the telecom regulator and the telecom division see the sector from their own perspectives and set taxes and telecom charges separately, said Chowdhury. The charges should be fixed from a general point of view, he said.

Bangladesh is doing well on freelance software development platform oDesk, where it is placed just behind India and the Philippines, he said.

Without any marketing or corporate backing, over three lakh freelancers reported to have billed over $21 million in 2013, according to the report. The report suggested that all specialised and medical college hospitals be fully equipped with adequate broadband capacity by 2016.

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Source: Daily Star

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