KERALA IT POLICY TO HAVE COMPREHENSIVE GROWTH STRATEGY
As a precursor to the announcement of the IT Policy, the Government has commenced discussions with the various stakeholders today starting with Trivandrum based IT Companies in Technopark. The meeting was held under the auspices of G-Tech (the Group of Technology Companies). Mr M Sivasankaran, IT Secretary, Mr Hrishikesh Nair, CEO of the Kerala IT Parks, Mr Jayasankar Prasad, CEO, KSUM, Mr Santhosh Kurup, CEO, ICT Academy of Kerala were present. G-Tech Secretary Mr Vijayakumar, CEO Mr Ranjith Ramanujam and representatives of around 40 companies including Infosys, UST Global, RP Infotech, d + h were present. Representative of NASSCOM was also present.
Mr Hrishikesh Nair set the tone for the meeting by presenting some of the initiatives taken by the Government including creating a unified Kerala IT Parks brand for the three different IT Parks, namely Technopark, Infopark and Cyberpark and Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited doing the land acquisition and creation of new IT buildings and Parks. He also informed the companies about the Government’s plan to create 20 million sq. ft. of IT space and wanted their inputs on whether the State should go in for creating massive IT infrastructure or behind getting modern technology businesses into the State. Mr Anoop Ambica, Former G-Tech Secretary was the moderator.
The companies wanted to know whether by merging all the 3 IT Parks in the State and KSITI handling land acquisition and construction of new buildings and parks, whether the services and facilities offered by the Parks would go in for a toss. Similarly in order to create a bigger asset base, the Government will pledge the Parks with the banks and take loan for future infrastructure creation. What is expected from the investors/companies regarding “Own your Park” scheme. Whether the single window clearance will take care of all approvals including registration under Shops & Establishment Act and whether self-declaration by companies will be accepted by all departments of the Government. Companies also wanted to know whether space sharing and co-location can be agreed as part of the Policy and space can be provided free of rent in all buildings for setting up creches for the children of employees and provide hostel for women employees. In order to attract young talents to the state, the social infrastructure needs to be augmented. Regarding moving up the value and technology chains, companies felt that there is a difficulty in attracting right talents to the State and the Government should initiate action to modify the curriculum of Engineering Colleges in Kerala and set up more fab labs, future labs, etc., for skill development and capacity building. On building entrepreneurship, companies wanted the Government to set up a Kerala Investment Fund for technology industry primarily targeting at the start-ups for collateral free funding. Regarding e-Governance and procurement, the Digital procurement, procurement of upto 5 lakhs from start-ups and Swiss Challenge are welcome steps, the companies wanted the IT Secretary to take up with the Government for a programme for joint development by companies for the Government with time and material so that tendering is not required. The companies wanted the industry to be included in the annual revision of the policy.
The IT Secretary explained that decision has been taken for integrating all three parks as Kerala IT brand. He also mentioned that it has been decided to commence construction of new buildings in parks when 50% of the space is sold. It has also been decided a total refurbishment of all 15 year old buildings in IT Parks. The Government has also called for EoIs for starting a Kerala Investment fund for technology companies as alternative investment fund. There will be a small kitty from the Government and the private partner who will manage the fund will have similar investment in the fund. IT Secretary informed that space will be given for creating facility for creche in all new buildings free of rent while they will attract O & M charges and sharing of space among companies have been approved. IT Secretary requested the companies to concentrate on their work and reach out to new markets, areas and technologies by adding employment opportunities and assured all possible support for the growth of existing companies. The policy will also support new investment. He wanted the companies to provide their specific requirements to be provided to the Government as soon as possible so that their recommendations can be considered while formulating the new IT Policy 2017.