Dhaka,  Monday
24 June 2024

BASIS Executive Council Sworn In, Vows Indigenous Software Sovereignty

Staff Reporter

Published: 22:03, 21 May 2024

BASIS Executive Council Sworn In, Vows Indigenous Software Sovereignty

Photo: Courtesy

The newly elected Executive Council (2024-2026) of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) was formally inaugurated with the oath to achieve self-sufficiency and establish sovereignty of indigenous software in the ICT sector to implement Smart Bangladesh.

A. Towhid, Founder president of BASIS, administered the oath to the newly elected executive council at the event held at Hotel Radisson Blu in the capital.

Salman F Rahman, MP and the Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister, was present as the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony. The State Minister for Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam (Titu), MP, were present as special guests while FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam were present as guest of Honor.

Apart from this, former president of BASIS, Sarwar Alam, Rafiqul Islam Rowly, outgoing executive council members, former executive committee members, and representatives of BASIS member companies and officials of various embassies in Bangladesh were present.

At the ceremony, Russell T. Ahmed, President of BASIS, M Rashidul Hasan, Senior Vice President of BASIS, Syed Mohammad Kamal, Vice President (Admin) and Iqbal Ahmed Fakhrul Hasan, Vice President (Finance), and the newly elected Directors of BASIS Md. Mostafizur Rahaman Sohel, Didarul Alam, M Asif Rahman, Dr. Muhammad Risalat Siddique, Mir Shahrukh Islam, Biplob Ghosh Rahul and Syed Abdullah Jayed took oath. 

As Russell T. Ahmed re-elected as the President of BASIS, outgoing Vice-President (Admin) Abu Daud Khan and Vice President (Finance) Fahim Ahmed handed over the BASIS flag to him at the ceremony. Later, the outgoing Executive Council members, BASIS Election Board and Appeal Board were felicitated by the guests for their contribution.

Samira Zuberi Himika, the outgoing Senior Vice-President of BASIS, delivered the welcome address on the occasion.

BASIS President Russell T. Ahmed said, ‘We have noticed a number of inconsistencies in the NBR regarding tax exemptions in the IT sector. According to them, the IT sector makes a profit of tk5 thousand crore and the revenue of this industry is tk50 thousand crore. But the total turnover of this sector is tk2 thousand crores. Once this anomaly is removed, we think the IMF will lose interest in taxing this industry. In this case, we are demanding tax exemption till 2031 considering the potential of this sector.

He also said, 'ICT will be the nucleus for the implementation of Smart Bangladesh. To achieve this goal by achieving self-sufficiency in the local market and moving towards the 5 billion dollar target, we feel that the government should set a target of self-sufficiency in the IT sector by 2041 through a policy. In this case, considering the capabilities of Bangladesh's technology institutions, foreign institutions should not be used for public and private procurement. In cases where we are dependent on foreign companies and in which technology we are developing, a domestic company should be made mandatory as a local partner. Doing these two things at the same time will help us in creating skilled manpower. Besides, foreign direct investment and local investment will be interested and will earn huge foreign currency by exporting abroad to meet the needs of the country.

FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam said that ICT sector is one of the most important drivers of Bangladesh's economy. The role of this sector is immense in the implementation of Smart Bangladesh. It is hoped that the newly elected Executive Council of BASIS will play an important role in developing the indigenous software industry, achieving self-sufficiency.

State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam (Titu), said, considering the country's ICT sector seriously, we have helped its expansion in the international market and will continue to support it in the future. Of course, the ICT sector of Bangladesh will one day become a big sector like the garment sector. The IT sector has developed with the combined efforts of all and I hope that will continue. We have taken the initiative of Ministry of Commerce to be completely paperless. Within the next one year, the Ministry of Commerce will be completely paperless. In other words, if you have the necessary documents to open a company, you can get all the certificates at home.

State Minister for Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that BASIS's 2500 ICT service providers and software development companies have created employment for around 3 lakh youth, we want to increase it to 10 lakh. The current government has established the IT sector of the country. We want to increase the export earnings of this sector to 5 billion dollars by 2029. Our IT sector is growing and so are the possibilities. We have requested the Hon'ble Prime Minister to request tax exemption for another 5 years in this promising ICT sector. Now we have to be interested in making the youth skilled in things like startups, machine learning, blockchain, artificial intelligence and moving the country towards a technology-based economy, in addition to software development.

In the speech of the Chief Guest, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister Salman F Rahman gave a positive indication that the tax holiday facility in the ICT sector of the country will remain in force this year as well.

He said, ‘I had an opportunity to talk to the Prime Minister about the issue of tax exemption. The Prime Minister assured to consider the proposal in view of the request to impose taxes consistently and rationally in different periods. This time the budget will inform how long the tax exemption can be.

He also said, ‘you have to be vocal about what kind of policy support is needed for the domestic ICT sector to keep pace with the pace at which the world's technology is advancing. While tax exemptions are important, what kind of policy do you need for the next level? AI, block chain, big data need to be looked at because programmers will lose the most jobs in the future. So now they have to train to the next level. The government should be guided in this matter from the BASIS.

However, on May 8, 2024, the Executive Council Election for the 2024-2026 term of BASIS was held. Later, an 11-member executive council was formed.

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