Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that Information Technology (IT) is the future for Pakistan, and the government is taking measures to enhance this sector, expressing confidence that investments would create employment opportunities for the youth and generate much-needed dollar inflows.
Khan, in his address at the E-Commerce Pakistan Convention in Islamabad, lauded the role of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on E-Commerce, Senator Aon Abbas, adding that the government will provide full support to the IT sector.
“The entire IT industry is youth-driven, even today young people are at top positions in the IT sector. This is because the global future is rapidly moving towards digitisation, and we should not miss this technology revolution,” he said.
He said that the government is aiming to take IT exports to $50 billion in the coming years. “With minimal incentives, our IT exports have reached $3.75 billion, and with the coming incentives, we would facilitate our youth to reap benefit of this technology revolution,” Khan said.
He said that the IT exports of neighbouring India jumped from $1 billion to $100 billion in a span of 10 years. “If they can do it, we can as well,” he said.
“When we came into power, the situation was very bad and the country was on the brink of bankruptcy so I had to tell my cabinet to don't panic and today I tell the opposition not to panic,” said PM Khan.
The premier announced that the government has decided to charge zero tax on the incomes of registered freelancers.
On the recent visit of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, Khan lauded the American magnate for his role against polio eradication in Pakistan. “I was interested in involving Gates with the Pakistan IT sector in an advisory position,” he said, adding that he would give "good news" regarding the development in the coming days.
"We are also changing the cricketing structure, and in the coming days Pakistan would become a cricket giant. We need to take similar measures across all sectors including education,” he said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in his address said that present government introduced a number of initiatives such as Raast and Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA), “as we want to move alongside the world”.
“The world is moving towards becoming a digital economy, and we need to be at par with the rest of the world,” he said.
The finance minister said that in the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, the government would focus on service quality, in order to improve internet and telecommunication service to boost the IT sector.
On the economy, Tarin said that there are three reasons behind the lack of sustainable growth in the country. “Firstly, our saving rate is very low i.e. 14-15%, which cannot sustain a growth of over 4-5%.
“Secondly, another major issue is that there is a huge gap of exports and imports, our exports account for 8.5% of the economy, whereas our imports are 18.5%. This gap is about $40 billion,” said Tarin.
He said that last year the IT sector grew by 47%, whereas this year we expect it to grow by 75%. “I want the IT sector to grow by 100% annually, and in the coming five years our IT exports should hit $50 billion, and this is not a difficult task,” said Tarin.
This story was first published in Business Recorder on February 21, 2022.