June 3, 2018

Roundtable Discussion on ICT in Government Policies, Program and Budget 2075/2076

Internet society (ISOC) Nepal organized a Roundtable Discussion on ICT in Government Policies, Program and Budget 2075/2076 on May 31, 2018 in Kathmandu. The event was organized in the backdrop of recently approved government Policy and Programmes and proposed Budget for the FY 2018/19 by the Government.

The program was attended by government officials, Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) Federation, Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), Nepal Network Operators’ Group (npNOG), Internet Exchange Nepal (npIX), FOSS advocates, lawyers and internet rights advocates. Mr. Birendra Mishra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT), Mr. Laxmi Prasad Yadav, Director General, Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and Mr. Subhash Dhakal, Director, MoCIT were also present in the event.

The event was organized to foster informed discussion among stakeholders about major provisions relating to ICT in government policy and programmes and budget; exchange concerns raised by different sectors and stakeholders, and to identify and prioritize a list of agenda to engage with the government/parliament for necessary advocacy for enabling environment for ICT sector in Nepal.

Santosh Sigdel, President, ISOC Nepal made a presentation highlighting the areas ICT was addressed by the government policy and budget; whereas Tanka Raj Aryal, Treasurer, ISOC Nepal facilitated the program. Participants in the meeting agreed that the government has prioritized the ICT sector in its annual policy and programmes but failed to translate that into budget. It was also agreed that the ICT sector has considerable opportunity as the country has already started the federalization process and provincial government and local level have started functioning.

Concerns were raised regarding lack of fully functioning payment gateway system and limits put on transaction; lack of privacy and data protection laws when the budget has been allocated for implementation of national ID cards and collection of biometric data; new provision of direct tax on telephone services including data; lack of support for start-up initiatives etc. Stakeholders agreed that a collective approach and effort is required to engage with the government agencies to deal with these issues.

Mr. Laxmi Prasad Yadav, Director General, DoIT, expressed his commitments to continue working together with all the stakeholders in promoting ICT in Nepal. He added that the ICT sector come forward and exploit the opportunities. In his closing remarks, Mr. Birendra Mishra, Joint Secretary, MoCIT thanked the participants for suggestions and reiterated commitment on behalf of the ministry to work together with all stakeholders. He also suggested to prepare a list of issues and agenda; and pledged to organize a stakeholder meeting in the ministry in the immediate future to solicit ideas to promote ICT sector.