“Tech-savvy youth and Informations Technology sector are Pakistan’s biggest assets that can be exploited to bridge the huge current account deficit,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan while chairing a meeting to follow up on his foreign visits and IT sector initiatives introduced by the Government.
“We are announcing tax holiday and 100% Forex retention for IT/ITeS Companies and freelancers registered with Pakistan Software Export Bureau (PSEB) to incentivise investment in IT sector for economic turnaround,” he added.
Emphasising on his vision to boost IT exports to $50 Billion in the next few years, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of unleashing the IT industry by providing them ease of doing business and the best incentives globally available. He announced a historic reform package for the growth of IT sector.
The Prime Minister announced the establishment of Pakistan Technology Startup Fund to provide seed funding worth Rs. 1 Billion to around 50 Startups annually.
The Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to establish Special Technology Zones (STZs) on fast track basis in Islamabad and all provincial capitals to create hubs of IT/Technology innovation and investment in cities in the first phase, sectors of CDA in Islamabad Will be declared as Special Technology Zones so that IT firms and freelancers can avail the benefits offered by Special Technology Zones Aurhority (STZA).
He also directed them to introduce necessary changes in the Foreign Exchange and Income Tax policies in order to help IT Startups thrive in the country. These reforms include launch of Roshan Digital IT Acounts (RIDA) by State Bank of Pakistan to allow freelancers and IT firms to retain 100% of their foreign income in foreign exchange with no restrictions on the movement of forex; resolution of double taxation of IT Sector by FBR; and the exemption from Capital Gains Tax of venture funding into startups. The Prime Minister directed to attract local and international VC funding into IT Startups (Global $643 Billion in 2021) for creating jobs and bringing forex.
Earlier the Prime Minister was informed that ICT export remittances in FY 2020-2021 remained USD 2.1 Billion as compared to USD 1 Billion in 2018, and Pakistan is exporting to 120 plus countries in the world.
The meeting was attended by Finance Ministe Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, IT Minister Syed Amin ul Haque, NSA Dr Moeed Yusuf, SAPM on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor, Chairman STZA Amir Hashmi, Chairman FBR Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Chairman CDA Amir Ali Ahmed and other senior officers concerned.