PHUKET CITY: After years of promises, Phuket today moved one step towards the goal of becoming a center for information technology with the opening of a branch of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa) at Saphan Hin. The opening aligns Phuket with Sipa headquarters in Bangkok and puts the local branch in control of software development throughout southern Thailand. It also brings closer the concept of a “one-stop service center” to smooth bureacratic procedures for foreign IT investors and workers. Today’s event was significant enough to bring the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Surapong Suebwonglee, to Phuket. Manoo Ordeedolchest, President of Sipa, told the Gazette that the Phuket office will support and push local implementation of the government’s ICT policy. “We will consider how much we can develop this industry,” he said, highlighting the need for transaction, animation and multimedia software as priorities. He added that developing human resources will be the first challenge, along with applying new technology in local businesses. “The Board of Investment (BoI) and the provincial government will be responsible for the one-stop service center,” he said. “The center will be convenient for foreign investors when it comes to Immigration procedures and work permits. This matter is now being discussed in the Labor Ministry.” The Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) has undertaken to make Phuket an Internet gateway this year, and improved telephone connections have also been promised. The Prince of Songkhla University, Phuket Campus, has plans to train 200 people in graphic computer design in cooperation with the Sipa center. A Sipa branch has already opened in Chiang Mai and another is to be set up in Khon Kaen.
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