Two of the major business NGOs of Turkey organized a joint conference last week. The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) and the Informatics Industry Association (TÜBİSAD) underlined the importance of information and communications technology (ICT). TÜBİSAD represents the strongest collective voice of the companies operating in the ICT and new media sectors. Over 200 active member companies of TÜBİSAD oversee an economic volume of $40 billion a year in Turkey. Therefore, I believe that we have to listen carefully to what they have to say about Turkey’s growth strategies.

TÜBİSAD President Kemal Cılız made a speech at the conference, basically saying that good things were being done but that we needed to do more.

He said the ICT industry was still not where it should be and that this put restraints on economic growth and that ICT had a one to six multiplier ratio. Cılız stated that the hardware business still accounted for most of the total ICT industry; for healthy economic services and solutions, however, this figure should be dramatically higher in share as their value added is much higher.

He also had some policy recommendations as follows:

• ICT should be declared a strategic industry and must be supported with a strong political will.

• ICT taxes should be lowered especially in software development, services and telecommunications.

• The public sector should not a competitor to the private ICT companies. Instead, it should be a regulator only, while public tenders on ICT should be revised.

• R&D and entrepreneurship must be supported. As such, the 50 R&D personnel pre-requisite should be lowered in the law while the current incentives should be continued.

• Improving the quality of human resources must be a priority.

I cannot help but agree with TÜBİSAD. We have heard these remarks for years now. I hope that someone in the government will listen to them.