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Software specialist rises by 3%, but misses goal

The country’s software exports have seen nearly 3% rise to $109 million in the first 10 months of the outgoing fiscal year as compared to the same period of previous fiscal, but has failed to reach the target due to political unrest.

The latest data of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) shows the export figure 6.95% less than that of the target of $117.25m for the period of July-April.

Bangladesh set the software export target of $130m for FY2014-15.

The sector people blamed political unrest and lack of proper infrastructure and insufficient investment for the export shortfall.

In July-April of the fiscal year 2014-15, Bangladesh earned $109.10 million, exporting computer services, which is 2.95% higher compared to $106m in FY2013-14 when Bangladesh fetched $124.72m from the IT sector.

The software exports include computer data processing and hosting services, computer consultancy service, export of computer software, customised and non-customised.

“Export earnings from the computer services rose, but it did not reach the expected level due to political turmoil in the first quarter of the year,” said Shameem Ahsan, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

Software importers visit Bangladesh to negotiate deal and for placing orders but due to political disturbance, they were unable to visit, which cast shadow on work orders, added Shameem.

Lack of infrastructure and skilled manpower are the key challenges for the IT industry while high prices of internet bandwidth are another bar to boosting the information technology sector.

There are some legal issues with the IT Park at Janata Tower which also hindered the expected growth of software export, but the issue would be resolved soon, Shameem said.

“If we want to earn $1bn from the IT sector, it needs at least $200m investment to attract buyers, but EPB has allocation of Tk2 crore only.”

He urged the government to enhance investment and infrastructural development in the IT sector to build a digitised Bangladesh.

At present, Bangladesh is providing training for 30,000 people under a World Bank project and 23,000 under an ADB-funded project.

According to a rough estimate of BASIS, around 2.5 lakh workers are engaged in the IT sector.