ICT Taskforce report polarises developers

The government is hoping its ICT Taskforce report will galvanise the IT sector into doubling its contribution to GDP within 10 years.

The government is hoping its ICT Taskforce report will galvanise the IT sector into doubling its contribution to GDP within 10 years.

But polarising views is the first impact the report is having.

Dunedin developer David Harris, whose Pegasus Mail application earned him a special mention at the PC World Awards in Auckland earlier this month, thinks the 38-page document comes at the issue of expanding the sector from the wrong direction.

“The entire report appears to have been conceived from a purely accounting and management viewpoint — even the primary aim (‘getting 100 companies earning more than $100 million per annum’) — is fiscally motivated rather than technologically or socially motivated.”

Harris also questions whether becoming big is what IT innovators really want.

“This, an attitude common amongst those who have spent too long soused in marketing think-tanks, completely overlooks the fact that some of the brightest and most innovative people are solo or very small operations — people who will typically be the most loyal in the long term and require the most help in the short term.”

Auckland company Prolificx, however, which makes components for handheld computers, thinks it can become one of the taskforce’s new $100 million companies.

“I couldn’t disagree with Mr Harris more,” says Prolificx head Selwyn Pellett.

“I think New Zealand companies are coming of age. Like myself, many executives have returned from overseas with their ambitions recalibrated to international standards.”

Harris and Pellett seem to agree that there are political obstacles to expanding the sector: Harris points the finger at the tax regime.

“High personal tax loads and an almost total lack of export-based tax incentives mean that no successful company has any reason to remain in New Zealand.”

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