Caretaker minister unveils $10b IT export plan


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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Dr Umar Saif has revealed an ambitious roadmap to attain an annual export target of $10 billion through four key dimensions.

Speaking as the chief guest at the 23rd ITCN Asia 2023 in Karachi, themed “Declaring Pakistan the Regional ICT Hub,” Saif outlined strategies to boost Pakistan’s IT export potential from the current $2.6 billion to $3.5 billion.

“Special forex accounts and online banking platforms are necessary for IT companies to invest in core infrastructure, purchasing essential software services and hardware equipment,” Saif explained.

Through a collaboration with the private sector, the ministry aims to train 100,000 software developers, projected to augment exports by $2 billion annually, reaching a total of $5.5 billion. Various training programmes and boot camps will align the capacity of domestic graduates with the in-demand skills of the IT industry, he added.

Saif also addressed the challenges faced by Pakistan’s large online freelance workforce, noting that the absence of an international payment gateway like PayPal results in revenues being attributed to overseas remittances. Enabling freelancers with a global payment gateway and accessible accounts could further boost exports by $2 billion. Acknowledging the critical role freelancers play, Saif highlighted the need for a conducive ecosystem and workstations.

The government, in collaboration with the private sector, aims to establish 5,000 points across different cities to support freelancers. He also stressed the importance of equitable tax rates for freelancers, aiming to align their tax rates with those of the IT industry at 0.25%.

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