President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with the IT community members to take stock, discuss the prospects and benefits of an IT-country on Friday, 12 April.
The IT sector in Belarus will keep enjoying support at the top level.
During the informal meeting, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I’ve supported you and will keep supporting you.
You are my children, basically. I’ve created you with my own hands as well as I could.
Now you are grown up and can suggest where we move on from here. We are going to move in this direction as effectively and as far as you would like.”
Stressing the state’s readiness to support the IT sector, he also asked the IT community to propose new ideas on how to drive the country’s IT sector further.
“You wanted cryptocurrency, crypto exchange, crypto mining, etc. you wanted to create the farms… We will walk this path together.”
Artificial intelligence hub
Belarus is rapidly becoming a hub of artificial intelligence in Eastern Europe, according to Director of the Hi-Tech Park (HTP) Administration Vsevolod Yanchevsky. He also noted that it is one of the breakthrough areas in the IT sector.
After the adoption of the decree, more companies have joined the HTP than in 12 years of its history. Last year 268 new residents joined the park, their number kept rising and finally reached 505 by this April.
The residents of the park are research and development centers, local and global companies. Their products and services are exported to 127 countries; the top ones are the USA and the EU.
An IT country policy obviously generates economic benefits for Belarus, Yanchevsky remarked. In 2018 the total revenue of the HTP reached BYN 3.2 billion, nearly 50% up from 2017.
He pointed out that investors and businessmen became more active after seeing the country’s openness and attitude to the IT sector.
Another benefit is the creation of new jobs by the HTP resident companies, as many as 56 new residents in the regions have been registered lately.
In 2018 companies residing in Belarus’ Hi-Tech Park employed over 45,700 people, creating 14.5% of all new jobs in the country.
Digital economy ministry
A digital economy ministry was also on the agenda of the meeting. The president ordered to finally make a decision on whether such a ministry is needed.
Recall that the initiative to set up a digital economy ministry in Belarus was put forward by Viktor Prokopenya, the technology entrepreneur and venture investor.
The president also visited the exposition of products, new solutions and digital technologies developed by the HTP leading resident companies.
He was particularly interested in practical aspects of robotics, virtual reality and blockchain technologies in agriculture, health, education, finance, transport, commerce, ecology, lasers, and optics.
Lukashenko got familiar with EPAM Systems, one of the world’s largest IT corporations with Belarusian origin. The company’s global revenue exceeded $1.8 billion in 2018.
Recall that the IPM Research Center analyzed the contribution of the HTP companies and employees to the country’s budget in 2018. Turns out, the growth of the HTP contribution to the budget was 53%. compared to 2017.
According to the estimates, the total tax payments of HTP residents and employees amounted to BYN 567.4 million, which is equivalent to almost 18% of their revenue.
More on the topic:
The average HTP worker paid 4.6 times the income tax, 4.8 times more VAT and 5.5 times more excise taxes than the “average” worker in the economy.
The export of IT services in 2018 exceeded $ 1.4 billion, which amounted to 21.2% of service exports and 4.4% of exports of goods and services (in 2005, it was 5% and 0.67%).