Sept 22 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan telecom firm shifted its call centre out of the capital to a lower-cost central region of the island, in a trendsetting move that other firms could follow to their advantage.

Suntel, unit of Sweden’s Telia which runs a wireless fixed network in the island, shifted its customer service call centre to Kandy in the Central Province Friday with 40 agents.

œThrough this launch we also plan to employ many youth who seek employment in Kandy and introduce them to a growing market such as telecommunication Jeremy Huxtable, Managing Director of Suntel said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s Western Province which has the capital Colombo, generates more than half the country’s gross domestic product and attracts job seekers from other regions.

The Colombo district has a poverty rate (households earning less than a dollar a day) of 5 percent compared to a national rate of 10.2 percent, while the poverty rate in Kandy is 20.9 percent, according to 2002 data.

Head of Marketing Nilmini Gunaratne says they have already recruited 12 employees from Kandy.

œThis a very good sign, says Rohan Samarajiva of LirneAsia, a telecom policy research organization