Sri Lanka IT

Ample opportunities for lankan BPOs in India

Originally appeared on Sunday Observer

‘Gap in market could be exploited’

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India from July this year has opened up an array of opportunities for Sri Lanka’s IT services sector to clinch projects from India’s smaller firms in the fields of accountancy and taxation services, a top former Indian bureaucrat said last week.

Speaking in a public virtual conversation with Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Prof. Razeen Sally, the former secretary to the Ministry of Finance in India, Dr. Narayan said there is a gap in the Indian market where the Sri Lankan IT services industry can exploit because the big IT companies like InfoSys and Tata are so busy with government work and the smaller companies are finding it difficult to get their jobs done.

“There are opportunities for a small software firm, an accounting firm or a tax filing firm to do work virtually for the Smaller and Medium Indian Companies.

All that you need to do is to put out your availability out into the media and say that you are willing to do this work and work will come your way,” said Dr. Narayan, who also served as Economic Advisor to former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said.

He said that in India a lot of tax filing work and others are now being increasingly done online following the introduction of GST in India on 1 July 2017 which replaced multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state government.

“Large companies like Infosys, Wipro and Tata are handling big government work like driving licenses and vehicle registrations etc. So they are employing thousands of people to handle this while for GST there aren’t enough jobs available,” Dr. Narayan said. Hence, he said that for an ordinary business such a little company out there, they have to figure out the software and file it online.

“People are not available as everybody is busy with big work, while small firms are all blocked up,” said Dr. Narayan, who counts nearly four decades in public service in the State and Central Governments in India. The virtual conversation by Prof. Sally with Dr. Narayan was organized by Advocata, an independent policy think tank based in Colombo and was held at the MAS Innovation Centre.

Advocata hosts Facebook Live event with Dr Narayan

Dr Narayan, a former economic Adviser to the Indian Prime Minister says there’s ample opportunity to further India - Sri Lanka Trade.

Dr. Narayan, former secretary to the Indian Ministry of finance and former economic adviser to the Indian Prime minister, made such statements by pinpointing to several sectors where opportunity for growth is visible. One such area for Sri Lanka to exploit is the market for consumer goods, he said, given the nature of India’s vast internal market. He alluded to the current success of the export of Sri Lankan sausages as a case study for his claim. Sri Lankan sausages,  is preferred over local sausages , especially in Southern India, due to its higher quality, which results in gains in income for Sri Lankan sausage producers and exporters. At the same time, India benefits from higher quality when its local producers aim to perfect their production process to match the quality of Sri Lanka exports, which leads to mutual gains for both countries.

Dr. Narayan also pointed to the IT sector as an area filled with opportunities for Sri Lankan firms.  Despite India being an IT giant, and attracting a lot of IT related investment into key cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore, where you would expect Indian firms to dominate, there is so much scope for Sri Lankan IT firms to exploit. He claimed that since recently, many large Indian IT firms like Oracle have been preoccupied with government work alone, that they are missing out on other potential customers. This is what creates the market for Sri Lankan IT firms to target, and prosper in the process.

Such sentiments were expressed in a Facebook Live event organized by the Advocata Institute, held at the MAS innovation centre on the 21st of November. Dr. S. Narayan was joined by Professor Razeen Sally, associate professor of the National University of Singapore and the chairman of the Institute of Policy studies. The discussion progressed into a session of active engagement between the audience present at the venue and the audience connected through Facebook. Common questions asked were along the lines of whether India is a threat to Sri Lanka, bringing to light the transfer of professionals and skilled labour from India to Sri Lanka. The Facebook audience seemed concerned about the NT trade barrier removal and the degree of commitment India is showing to facilitate trade. Professor Sally went onto to ending the discussion on a light note, stating that we as Sri Lankans should be much more optimistic about Indo-Lanka relations and the opportunities that may arise from such a relationship.