President Calls for Acceleration of Digital Economy Program
Colombo, May 20, 2023 – President Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed authorities, including the state minister in charge, to deliver a comprehensive report on expediting the country’s transition towards a digital economy within one month. The president made this announcement on Thursday (May 18) during his address at the inauguration of the Daraz Headquarters located in Alvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 08.
President Wickremesinghe also expressed his disappointment regarding the prolonged discussion surrounding the Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS), which was established by the Inland Revenue Department for tax collection. The president revealed that he had addressed this issue during his tenure as Prime Minister back in 1993, emphasizing the need for swift progress in the matter.
During his speech, President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of avoiding any delays in the digitalization process and highlighted the potential benefits that can be achieved through a faster implementation. The president formally inaugurated the Daraz Headquarters by illuminating the digital plaque, following traditional customs of lighting the oil lamp and cutting the ribbon at the entrance.
Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe commended the success of Daraz in Sri Lanka and recognized the platform’s significant contribution to the country’s e-commerce potential. He expressed gratitude towards Alibaba for establishing Daraz in Sri Lanka and acknowledged the company’s role in inspiring other businesses. The president also took the opportunity to tour the Daraz Headquarters and engage in a discussion with the company’s Board of Directors.
In his remarks, President Wickremesinghe acknowledged the slow progress of e-commerce adoption in Sri Lanka and outlined the government’s efforts to accelerate the digitalization process. He highlighted the potential collaboration with Tamil Nadu in India, suggesting that Sri Lanka could benefit from utilizing a similar system already in place in Tamil Nadu. The president called for discussions with Indian authorities to explore the possibility of leveraging their expertise in digitalization.
President Wickremesinghe emphasized the need for legislation that would establish a framework and allocate responsibilities to government organizations and selected private entities. He proposed benchmarking and imposing penalties for non-compliance to ensure progress in the digitalization efforts. The president cited the example of the long-standing discussions on the Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) as an illustration of the need for expediency.
Additionally, President Wickremesinghe expressed his ambition to align Sri Lanka’s digital economy with the green economy, highlighting the potential business opportunities worth $5 trillion in Asia’s green economy sector. He called for concerted efforts in both sectors and pledged government support for the digitalization initiative starting from the next year.
The event was attended by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath, Managing Director of Daraz Rakhil Fernando, President Director of International Relations Mr. Dinouk Colombage, as well as other officials and employees from Daraz Head Office.
With President Wickremesinghe’s strong directive and commitment to advancing the digital economy, Sri Lanka is poised to make significant strides in embracing the opportunities presented by the digital age and positioning itself as a leading player in the region.