OTHERS

Sales tax on PCs, software withdrawn

BANGALORE, NOV. 1. The Bangalore IT.com 2001 started off on a positive note today with the Chief Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna, announcing some tax cuts on PCs, components and software.

``The four per cent sales tax on software stands withdrawn with effect from April and the Commercial Tax Department has been asked to treat computers as an article for common use and not a luxury item,'' Mr. Krishna said. A day earlier, the Government announced plans to waive the 12 per cent luxury tax on computer components and accessories.

Airport project

Mr. Krishna announced that formal work on the international airport close to Bangalore would begin in April 2002 indicating the final selection of partners for the project.

He said the project would be completed in about 30 months, to be ready in 2005, and the work monitored by a committee with Infosys Chairman, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, as Honorary Chairman.

He said a hardware park would be established near the new airport as part of a special economic zone. He told the overseas delegates: ``There are more `Bangalores' in our State - the Rs. 30-crore IT Park in Mysore, and others coming up in Hubli, Mangalore, and Manipal, will have all facilities needed by the IT industry.''

Work permits

The British Minister for e-commerce and Competitiveness, Mr. Douglas Alexander, who was asked to inaugurate the IT.com (the Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr. Digvijay Singh, did not turn up), said IT professionals and businesspersons going to the U.K. would have the benefit of multiple-entry work permits valid for up to two years. They could travel to Britain as often as they needed to. Sixty-three per cent of the visas to U.K. issued last year were to IT professionals. Work permits for them were issued within 10 days, and visas for business travel were usually processed the same day, he added.

Technology hub

Mr. Alexander said a U.N. report had ranked Bangalore as one of the global technology hubs and the City had contributed a major share of the bilateral trade between the U.K. and India, which grew by 28 per cent last year to reach $ 8 billion. In a reference to the post-September-11 events, the British Minister said: ``We have decided to conduct business as usual... our friends in this situation should be seen to be real friends.''

He said there were close to 250 Indian companies from the information and communications technology industry operating in the U.K., and 10 new Indian companies set up base there this year.

Pro-active policy

The Minister of State for IT, Prof. B. K. Chandrashekar, said the Government's efforts to promote the IT industry ``will not be diluted by the global slowdown.'' That was evident in the Bangalore IT.com taking place again as the biggest such event in this part of the world, and in Indian IT companies doing well in international stock markets.

The focus was on the non-U.S. markets, especially Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia.

The Government had now taken up a pro-active policy to boost the growth of the computer hardware industry, which was necessary for the domestic software market to expand, Prof. Chandrashekar said.

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