News Analysis |
One of the fastest growing industries in Pakistan, the Information Technology (IT) sector, has expanded its export market to over one hundred countries during the last five years of the incumbent government. This was recognized by the Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Anusha Rahman. She addressed the house, in a written response, to an inquiry as the government announced its first ever “Digital Pakistan” policy.
“Pakistan’s IT and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Industry has exported software development services, and IT enabled services such as call center services to over 100 countries, since 2013,” the minister told the National Assembly in a written reply to a question.
“The government strongly believes in adopting digital technologies and innovative applications to enable cross-sector socio-economic development and achievement of sustainable development goals,” said the Minister.
On May 22, the government gave a go-ahead to the country’s first-ever ‘Digital Pakistan’ policy which included further incentives for the information and technology and services sector.
The prime minister announced a cash reward and extension of a tax holiday on IT exports till 2025, the reduction of sales tax to 5% in Islamabad Capital Territory, ensured long-term financing at a 5% interest rate and the formation of legislation for new IT parks.
Addressing the house, the Minister of IT’s note also read that the Digital Pakistan Policy will serve as a catalyst towards a holistic digital ecosystem in the country with advanced concepts and components for rapid delivery of next generation digital services, applications and content.
She informed the house that the top three export destinations during the period were the United States, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, which accounted for over 71 per cent of the total Information and communication technology (ICT) exports.
Based on the current year’s trade in services data, for the first two quarters, reported by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), other prominent ICT export destinations, in descending order, included Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland, China (including Hong Kong), Saudi Arabia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Sweden, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Switzerland, South Korea, Denmark, Belgium, Sri Lanka, South Africa, France, Oman, Turkey, Qatar, Spain and Kuwait.
She said that the Ministry of Information Technology ad Telecommunication (MoITT), through the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), continues to strengthen and promote the IT and ITES industry through initiatives and programs such as Industry advocacy and policy-making, international marketing and promotion, domestic facilitation of businesses and investors’ capacity building through company certifications, IT training and internships and establishing IT Parks and IT-enabled office space (STPs).
At present, she added, incentives for the IT and ITES industry include zero income tax on IT exports till 2019, three-year tax holiday for IT startups with no minimum tax or withholding tax.
In addition, 100 per cent equity ownership has been allowed to foreign investors along with the allowance of 100 per cent repatriation of capital and dividends and tax holiday for venture capital funds till 2014.
She further informed the house that MoITT does not export software but its affiliated organization, PSEB is responsible for facilitation, advocacy and promotion of the local IT and ITES Industry with an aim to boost IT and ITES exports.