Govt plans easy loans to push PC use

Written by Vrishti Beniwal | Rishi Raj | New Delhi, Sep 16 | Updated: Sep 17 2007, 07:21am hrs
Concerned over low use of computers in the country, the government has decided to offer its employees and students easy loans to buy PCs.

A department of information technology (DIT) proposal on these lines has been approved by the Prime Ministers office. The DIT will now work out the modalities of a low-interest loan scheme that, when implemented, will decidedly increase Internet and broadband use, say experts.

The proposal will also want all government departments to spend 2-3% of their annual budget on IT products for up to three years.

Depreciation rates on computers will be allowed to be set off by 100% in three years.

In addition, electronics and hardware manufacturing will be treated as one of the thrust areas by the government. Special attention will be paid by the central and state governments as well as municipal agencies to boost manufacturing of PCs and their sales.

These set of measures are expected to push up PC Penetration in the country, from the current dismal 2%. This low penetration has severely affected growth of Internet and broadband connections despite a liberal broadband policy that came into effect in 2004.

The communications and IT ministry has set a target of 9 million broadband connections by the year-end, but until July, the country had just 2.47 million subscribersan increase of just 0.05 million users over what was recorded in the previous month. At this rate, the government is sure to miss the target.

We have observed Internet and broadband connections are not growing at the required speed, thus leaving us far behind the targets set by the government, an official told FE.

According to an IMRB-IAMAI study, there is an interesting contradiction in PC use. Almost three-fourths of all English-speaking people in the country are computer-literate, but just about half use the Internet. This shows that a potential exists for all existing PC users to take to the Internet.

During 2006-07, over 6.3 million PCs were sold in the countrygrowth of 26%.

In the current fiscal, the 8 million PCs are estimated to be sold. These numbers, however, are well below the global PC sales average.