‘Govt should extend tax sops to SMEs, BPOs’
New Delhi: Since the dollar meltdown has affected SMEs and BPOs in the IT space, the government should extend tax benefits at par with SEZs to units registered under Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) beyond the stipulated sunset clause of 2009, says Som Mittal, the new president of Nasscom. ‘‘Big IT companies can afford to set up in SEZs, it’s the smaller companies who benefit from STPIs. So the government should extend the STPI scheme and not kill a nascent industry,’’ Mittal says. He takes over from current president, Kiran Karnik this December. ‘‘Extending STPIs beyond the sunset clause will not lead to revenue losses for the government,’’ Mittal assures. Also, to cope with the dollar meltdown and escalating rupee, the Indian IT sector should be better prepared to retain its competitiveness by improving productivity and wage moderation, he says. In fact, after the Nasscom executive council meeting in December, the body is expected to draw up some guidelines for the IT industry to help them cope with the dollar meltdown. At the helm of Nasscom, Mittal’s main focus will be to build talent and ensure availability of skills for the IT industry. ‘‘The Indian IT sector is projected to become worth $60 billion by 2010. Given our demographics, I feel it’s a conservative estimate,’’ Mittal explains. “But to achieve that, we need to first focus on bridging the talent gap. India needs to move from trainable talent to directly employable, industry-ready talent. University curriculum needs to be changed and people need to be trained through finishing school. Also, there is a need for capacity creation in educational institutes. We will focus on Tier III and Tier IV cities so that the huge output of students from there is industry ready.” Moreover, the national assessment and certification programme or Nasscom Assessment of Competence (NAC) will be made pan-India soon. As of now, the pilot project has already been tested in a few states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala and the northeast. ‘‘The NAC will help the BPO industry create an ‘assessed and certified’ talent workforce to cater to their skilled manpower requirements,’’ Mittal says. Nasscom will also continue its focus on the domestic IT industry. The aim is to create a common framework across the country from citizens to business to government and get it all linked up.