The government on Tuesday gave go-ahead to the country’s first-ever “Digital Pakistan” policy including incentives for the information and technology and services sector.
The prime minister had announced a cash reward and extension of a tax holiday on IT exports till 2025, reduction in sales tax to 5% in Islamabad Capital Territory and ensured long-term financing at 5% interest rate and formation of legislation for new IT parks.
Already existing benefits announced in the last couple of years include 100% repatriation of capital and dividends, 3-year tax exemption for IT startups, and a tax holiday for venture capital funds till June 2024 among others.
Last week, Federal Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman Khan said, “A lot more work needs to be done to keep up with technology, including amendments in rules of business, framework, and laws to take full benefits of technology for development and growth,” said Rahman.
She said that ‘digital Pakistan’ policy gives a framework and would be presented to the cabinet on Thursday (today) for approval. Due to strenuous efforts of the incumbent government, Pakistan’s IT and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) sectors have developed exponentially through incentives and facilitation.
Ms. Rahman said that the growth rate of exports has jumped to 125% over the last five years, adding that the IT industry is not only growing in terms of the number of companies and revenue but also in exports and workforce on a yearly basis.
“These are, however, major achievements, and there is much more work to be done to reach the present government’s target of $10 billion in IT and ITeS exports by 2020,” she added.
The basic objective of the policy will take into account the increasingly transformed role of Information Technology (IT) across all sectors of socio-economic development, accelerated digitization and a holistic knowledge-based economy.
This policy would serve as a foundation of a holistic digital eco-system with advanced concepts and components for rapid delivery of next-generation digital services, applications and content. It will also provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs and firms to acquire core competencies, experience and credibility and better position them to compete at international level.
According to the approved policy, in consultation with IT industry including PASHA to boost the IT/ITeS exports the proposals for fiscal incentives for IT industry are recommended. The Ministry of IT & Telecom will recommend the proposals for inclusion in the relevant documents.