[Guest post] Do you find the budgetary measures for ICT lame too?
Please welcome the guest writer A.A who previously wrote his first article entitled “The 7 ideas to make Mauritius a cyber island“. Without losing any time, here’s what he wrote for this blog:
The budget was held recently and if you have studied the economic and non-economic measures taken by the government, you may reach a conclusion that the budget was not like those we had in the past. Many believe the budget was mainly for the youth. This post will discuss only on the measures taken for the ICT sector.
Price of internet
One of the most debatable matters we have is the price of internet.
In this budget, the minister announced the decrease of the price from Rs349 to Rs200. It is crystal clear that he was talking about the 256Kbps package from Orange! Does this price will change the life of the poor? Maybe yes or not, but do not you think even the government has lowered the price, it remains expensive?
Such a low internet speed package should be around Rs50, no joking, do not forget we are implementing fiber optics and this package is limited in data usage. More than that, the decision to decrease the internet price should be done long time ago, we are very late on it.
Another announced measure is online payment.
Some departments in the public sector will accept payment online such as the NTA, etc. These are good measures, but again, we are late on this aspect compared to other countries! In the same line of thought, digital signatures will be used for online transactions, here again, we are late.
Free tablet for every Form 4 students
Let’s come to the best measure now, the tablet PC for the estimated 20,000 students. No doubt the laptop project has been replaced by it, because the former is more costly.Tablet PC is the next revolutionary technology which will invade our home like mobile phones.
I do not have any issue for these kids to enjoy a tablet PC even they have to pay an insurance fee, but do not you think this is too much? Students are already getting free transports and education, now tablet PC with internet connection; it goes without saying that such a measure will cost us a lot. You think these students will use their tablet PC only to study? No, I bet most of us will be on Facebook or watch porn in class! Instead of giving these tablets, it would be good if they remove VAT on them so that everyone in Mauritius could afford one!
I also noticed that the government is planning to amend the privacy laws for online data storage. Well, I think they are referring to cloud technology, but wait, with the lame internet connection we have, how to make this benefit for all of us? Anyway, I wanted to make something related to cloud technology one day I hope this can help me!
Seriously, I am very sad for our friends in Rodrigues! It is not the first time the government has announced measures which will boost Rodrigues’ ICT sector but in vain. Now, the minister has said fiber optics should reach Rodrigues, will this turn to reality?
And what if, I was the Minister of Finance?
Enough of rants now.
Here are the MAIN measures which I would implement in the budget if I had this opportunity:
- Remove VAT on technologies like tablet PCs, computer hardware and smartphone.
- Encourage people to do projects, give them opportunities to create their own companies, and finance them with a fee of minimum Rs 50, 000 if their projects are worth to support.
- Encourage companies to sponsor people who have a project.
- Facilitate people to enjoy online payments from services like PayPal and so on. As it seems this issue comes from banking regulations or laws, they have to be amended. People can sell stuffs online as many foreigners use payment services.
- Encourage foreign IT companies to invest or establish their department here.
- Encourage more on electronic and electrical engineering, we are late on this! We can manufacture hardware here. Do not under-estimate our guys in electronic. And this does not apply only to degree holders in this field but also to people who have no proper qualification, and know how to deal with electronic stuffs. You must know in Mauritius, you have many persons who repair TVs, radios etc with experience and intelligence. Many of them do not have qualifications in electronic and electrical engineering but they have the potential! If training have to be provided, we should do it.
- Facilitate robotic research and encourage our students to participate in spatial projects!
- Organize competitions in software engineering or any application development. You want to challenge others? Create a software or application; if people like your stuff, you win a prize! The same goes for security, organize ethical hacking events.
- Ameliorate the system of teaching in universities. The students should do more practical projects.
- Encourage new developments like games, 3D design, and much more.
- Abolish 256Kbps internet package, minimum should be 512Kbps unlimited data usage at Rs150. 1Mbps would be Rs200, 2Mbps Rs250, 4Mbps Rs400, and introduce new internet speed packages like 10Mbps and more at lower price. Do not laugh; when reading this, other countries are already in advance on us and it is not a myth!
- The price for International Private Leased Circuits for companies should be decreased by 20%.
- Change the driving license in appearance (design). It should be like a “magnetic strip card” like the current bus pass for students or banking cards. Identity cards also should be like this.
- Rodrigues should have the same benefits as us in developments.
- Remove VAT on software license so that people can buy genuine products. The percentage of piracy software in use must be decreased.
- Encourage Open Source; all the public sectors must have at least 50% of Open Source technologies to reduce costs. If you do not know how to work on Linux for instance, trainings will be provided, else go and sell “gato pima” if you are lame and lazy to learn!
To conclude, this budget has missed the boat, the minister could do more when we are already late!
The concept of Cyber Island will never be achieved if the government does not have the real willpower to do so. As I wrote previously, since the past 10 years, I have been hearing that we will be a Cyber Island, but until today, nothing as concrete measures have been taken to boost the ICT sector!
Do you share the same thoughts as me?
How do you find the announced measures?