Pakistan's IT Exports : A Rising Trajectory

In October, Pakistan experienced a remarkable 15% growth in IT exports, reaching $238 million compared to the previous month’s $206 million, as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.

During the initial four months (July-October) of the fiscal year 2023-24, IT and IT-enabled Services (ITeS) exports, covering computer and call center services, increased by approximately 4.4% to $893 million. This surpassed the $855 million recorded during the same period in the previous fiscal year.

Prominent IT exporter Noman A. Said highlighted the potential for further growth in IT exports, attributing it to the government’s provision of a 50% retention facility for foreign exchange accounts. This facility empowers IT companies to target significant export orders, encouraging the exploration of new and large-scale projects. Said urged IT companies to fulfill their commitment to repatriate foreign exchange, including investments from offshore offices.

Additionally, he called on banking institutions to support IT companies and freelancers by facilitating foreign exchange maintenance in dedicated accounts. He advocated for the continued long-term implementation of this policy to achieve sustained results.

In collaboration with the central bank, the interim government is implementing enduring measures to stabilize the IT sector, ensuring uninterrupted growth and addressing the current account deficit. The industry promises to bring foreign exchange into the country and anticipates creating jobs for skilled youth shortly.

Tufail Ahmed Khan, President and CEO of the Pakistan Freelancers Association (PAFLA), emphasized the need for the government to extend additional facilities to freelancers in IT and non-technical services. In addition to the 50% retention facility, Khan proposed dedicated subsidies for freelancers pursuing various skill development courses and acquiring software and services. He also suggested providing non-interest loans for freelancer groups to enhance their capacity to work for foreign clients, contributing to increased foreign exchange inflow for the country.

Minister for IT and Telecommunications Syed Amin-ul-Haque announced on Monday that Pakistan is on track to surpass its $3 billion Information Technology exports target this year, attributing the success to strategic measures to enhance the sector.

At a graduation ceremony at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Minister Haque highlighted the significant achievement of crossing the $2.1 billion mark in IT exports. He credited this success to the favorable investment environment created for the sector.

Minister Haque noted that Pakistani start-ups had experienced nearly a fivefold increase in investments compared to 2020. The Ministry of IT and Telecommunications has been actively supporting these start-ups through Ignite, the national technology fund, providing them with local and global networking platforms. This initiative allows start-ups to pitch their ideas and products to potential customers and investors.

Emphasizing the role of technology in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Minister Haque praised the impact of National Incubation Centers (NIC) in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, and Quetta. He stated that these centers, facilitated by the ministry, have encouraged innovation and accelerated the economy.

Minister Haque expressed confidence that the newly established incubation centers in Hyderabad and Faisalabad would further tap into the potential of Sindh and Punjab, providing opportunities for youth to turn their ideas into reality.

Various speakers encouraged entrepreneurs to continue their innovative pursuits, assuring government support. The minister later interacted with NIC Lahore alums and toured different parts of the institution, including a state-of-the-art Makers Lab.

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