Nov 10 - 16, 2008

Pakistan ranks 62 in the world in the 2008 IT industry competitiveness index falling two places from its 2007 ranking of 60 in the index.

The study, now in its second year, assesses and compares the information technology industry environments of 66 countries to determine the extent to which they enable IT sector competitiveness. Although, the top 20 economies remain the same from one year ago, nine countries moved up and 11 went down in the rankings. Three countries in the top five are new: Taiwan, Sweden and Denmark. The top five countries in Asia-Pacific Region are Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Japan.

This year's index shows that a country's IT competitiveness rankings can move upward or downward very quickly, said Aly Harakeh, BSA spokesperson for Eastern Mediterranean and Pakistan. The ability of local governments and IT industries to deliver jobs and a better quality of life through information technology is strongly affected by how they handle the six drivers of competitiveness. Pakistan needs to invest in its R&D environment and IT infrastructure in order to improve its competitiveness in the IT industry.

Although, fair scores were achieved for the business environment as well as support for IT industry development and legal environment, there is still a lot to do to move up the global ranks.

The study finds that Pakistan performed strongest in business environment (55.3) as well as support of IT industry development and legal environment (both 41.0). Areas of improvement include R&D environment where the country scored the lowest, 0.2 points.

"Policymakers and business leaders need to address the full combination of factors that enable competitive IT industries," maintains Denis McCauley, Director, Global Technology Research with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"Few countries can hope to build strong IT production sectors without strong business and legal environments, deep pools of talent, support for innovation, and the widespread use of technology throughout society."

Six factors work together to create a sound environment for the IT sector, including: an ample supply of skills; an innovation-friendly culture; world-class technology infrastructure; a robust legal regime that protects intellectual property, such as patents and copyrights; an open, competitive economy; and government leadership that strikes the right balance between promoting technology and allowing market forces to work. Those countries that perform well in these six competitiveness enablers' generally are home to high-performance IT industries. High performing IT sectors directly contributes more than 5 percent to the gross domestic product of most advanced nations. They also drive momentum in the wider economy by helping organisations and workers to be more efficient and productive.



NEW DELHI: A cut in prime lending rate will lead to reduction in interest rates on home loans, car loans and other consumer loans. Those existing borrowers of home loans who are on floating rates will also benefit as interest rates will also come down. A half percentage point cut from 12% to 11.5%, can mean a monthly saving of Rs 1,734 on a 20-year Rs 50 lakh loan as the EMI would come down from Rs 55,054 to Rs 53,321

"Our Asset and Liability Committee should be meeting on Wednesday and a decision to cut the prime lending rate (PLR) by at least 50 basis points would be taken," said SBI Chairman O P Bhatt. BoB CMD MD Mallya also confirmed that the bank may cut its PLR by up to 75 basis points. He said a final decision on the extent of the cut would be taken by BoB's board soon.

PNB and Union Bank had cut their PLRs and home loan rates by half a percentage point. IDBI Bank had cut the home loan rate and is likely to cut its PLR now by 50 basis points. Central Bank of India CMD HA Daruwalla also confirmed that her bank would soon decide to cut the lending rates. However, not all banks are willing to cut home loan rates. Indian Bank, for instance, will not cut its home loan rate as it is already at a relatively low 9%, though it will cut PLR by half a percentage point.

FM said the major issues at present are availability of funds to banks, cost of funds and delivery of loans to companies and customers. To instill confidence in the customers and companies, he said that banks should cut the interest rates. He said on the liquidity front, a number of measures have been taken, which have yielded satisfactory results. RBI is keeping a close watch on the liquidity condition, he added.

Chidambaram said that RBI is looking into the request of National Housing Bank (NHB) to be given a line of credit of Rs 10,000 crore to give refinance facility to housing finance companies. This will increase the availability of funds in the housing sector. He said the housing and construction sectors alone contribute up to 50% in the growth of the economy as the steel and cement sectors are also related. RBI is also considering giving a Rs 10,000 crore line of credit to SIDBI to lend to small and medium size enterprises. Chidambaram said the RBI is taking all possible measures to infuse liquidity in the system so that the availability of funds to the productive sectors does not get affected. He expressed surprise as to where the entire money pumped into the system so far had gone.