Microsoft to invest $10m in Punjab
LAHORE, April 01,2005: Information technology giant Microsoft has agreed to invest $10 million in Punjab for supporting E-governance, setting up technology parks, localising licensed software and training government employees, teachers and students, said Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Addressing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Punjab Information Technology Board and Microsoft at the CM’s Secretariat on Wednesday, the chief minister said the joint venture would focus strengthening the ongoing education sector reforms programme and also create job opportunities for IT experts.
He said the long-standing land record computerisation would also get a boost. “The reforms could never be completely materialised unless and until their fruits reached the masses,” he said, adding the revenue record computerisation could ease out many of their miseries. “It would not only remove doubts on ownership but also prove vital for housing and agriculture loans processing,” he observed.
Referring to the annual purchase for the provincial departments, he said that all procurement would be made online to ensure transparency. “The total purchase in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) of Punjab was about one billion dollars and even five percent saving on it could be substantial,” he added.
Giving the example of Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, he said it had managed to save Rs 6 billion and added that online procedure would lessen the miseries of the masses. “Licence forms and certificates for various services would also be offered online which would improve the situation,” he said.
The chief minister said that no nation could progress without enhancing its IT skills and Microsoft would be offering Urdu software besides supporting hardware sales with Intel accessories at affordable rates.
The government, he said, was trying to introduce free computer education at Matric level to enable the younger generation meet future challenges in a befitting manner.
“The Microsoft investment would also go a long way in establishing local call centre industry on solid foundations and result in saving on foreign exchange. This, he said, was the first instance that any provincial government had entered into collaboration with the leading IT firm and hoped that the team work would further flourish.
The Punjab government, he said, would also be investing in the venture. He said that work on the MoU had started four months ago when he met the Microsoft regional president in Islamabad and the sincerity of purpose on both sides led to the signing ceremony.
He hoped that the venture would prove cost-effective and the introduction of E-governance would also root out corruption. He expressed his happiness that a new beginning was being made through the initiative.
Microsoft Regional President Emre Berkin said the Punjab government had embarked upon a new reform initiative with the market leader in the IT sector under the vision and patronage of the chief minister. He said the joint venture also intended to put Punjab on the world IT map and make it a hub of activities.
Earlier, Punjab IT Board Chairman Rizwan Amin Shaikh and Country Head of Microsoft Jawad Rehman inked the MoU on behalf of the Punjab government and Microsoft respectively. Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Rasool, Planning and Development Board Chairman Salman Ghani, Finance Secretary Salman Siddique, Information Secretary Taimoor Azmat Usman and Bank of Punjab MD Hamesh Khan were also present on the occasion.
Source: The News