Friday, January 21, 2011

Senate Urged To Pass DICT Bill

The House bill for the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has already passed the deliberations of the committees on ICT and on government reorganization. Under the bill, the DICT would be mandated to spearhead a “market-led broader development of ICT and its services sector, partnership between the private and public sector, and strategic alliance with foreign investors.’’ The proposed DICT would also be tasked with providing the necessary technical training and scholarships to qualified beneficiaries.

With the passage of such a bill on the committee level at the House of Representatives, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is urging the Senate to pass a counterpart bill creating the Department of ICT. The ECCP, in a press statement,  said the country stood to generate even more investments and new jobs—to the tune of $23 billion and 1.25 million, respectively, by 2016—if a permanent department formulating ICT policies and implementing ICT strategies would be created.

“We urge the Senate to ensure the timely passage of a counterpart bill creating the DICT. The DICT can ensure the Philippines can be competitive in the worldwide IT industry,’’ ECCP's Executive Vice-President Henry Schumacher said. “Given current developments in the ICT sector, it is vital that the Philippine government fully embrace it to support continuing rapid sectoral developments, including talent development and flexible work arrangements.’’

Right now, he said the ICT sector faced a lot of challenges, including issues in human resources, intellectual-property rights, security, data protection, quality management, and standards. The establishment of a DICT, he said, would help the industry better cope with and address these challenges.

At present, policy-making in the ICT industry is led by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), a body formed by the Office of the President and which, in effect, can be abolished at any time. Under the House bill, The DICT secretary will chair the Council of Chief Information Officers, which will have all government departments, agencies, and state colleges and universities as members.

The proposed DICT will absorb the functions of the CICT and the National Computer Center, and the communications aspects of the Department of Transportation and Communications. It will also have the National Telecommunications Commission, Philippine Postal Corp. and Telecommunications Office as attached agencies.

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