STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb. 5, 1999 — Today in Sweden, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates praised the country’s Home PC Initiative, a government program that enables employers to subsidize employee PC purchases. This program, says Gates, is an innovative partnership between government and industry that closes the skills gap in Swedish society and makes the country a leader in information technology (IT) policy.
The legislation, enacted in 1997, allows employees to deduct the cost of a new PC, as well as productivity software and Internet connections, from their pre-tax earnings. They can take home a fully-loaded PC right away, and the US$40-60 monthly payments are deducted from their paychecks; the tax savings alone reduce the cost of the PCs by 30 percent-60 percent. The payments, financed by a third-party leasing company, can be spread out over several years.
For employees, this program is a simple and inexpensive way to purchase a PC for home, business or educational use. For employers, the program ensures a flexible, productive and computer-literate workforce. More than 500,000 PCs have already been purchased through this program, with 250,000 more expected by June 1999. As a result, 41 percent of Swedish citizens now own a home PC, and that number is expected to rise as the program continues.
This successful initiative is the model for several other European initiatives; Denmark, Norway, Holland and Austria are already working to enact similar legislation. By increasing home PC ownership, government and industry can work together to bring the economic and cultural benefits of a computer-literate society to Europe as a whole.