IT freelancers have $3-4bn parked abroad due to high tax rates: Tarin

Published October 4, 2022
In this file photo, PTI leader Shaukat Tarin addresses a media talk in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
In this file photo, PTI leader Shaukat Tarin addresses a media talk in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Former Finance Minister Senator Shaukat Tarin said on Monday that Pakistani information technology freelancers have parked $3-4 billion abroad and shying away from bringing money into the country due to high taxes.

Mr Tarin was speaking at the meeting of the Senate Committee on Commerce to review various government policies and their implementation status.

Senator Zeeshan Khanzada chaired the meeting held at the Parliament House.

Mr Tarin further said that to encourage the IT sector, they should be given tax exemptions for 10 years and they should also be allowed to open 100 per cent foreign currency accounts. He said the banks should be directed to provide loans to the business community of the smaller provinces. The matter should be taken up with the State Bank of Pakistan and the Ministry of Finance, he added.

Asks govt to launch payment gateways and tax waivers to attract investments

Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Afridi said that for the development of Pakistan’s IT export, it is necessary to bring payment gateways like PayPal.

Officials informed the committee that talks were held with international payment gateways PayPal and others. “We are trying to start this service in Pakistan as soon as possible. Payments are currently made through a payment gateway linked to PayPal on Amazon”, they further said.

A detailed presentation was given to the committee members on the potential and performance of the IT industry and e-commerce sector. The committee was informed that the National E-Commerce Council has been established for the development of e-commerce in the country.

Pakistan is currently the 37th largest e-commerce market in the world and is growing rapidly.

The committee members said that quality control is very important for the development of e-commerce so that this sector gains the trust of the people.

Senator Abdul Qadir said that e-commerce can be used to reduce the role of middlemen in the agricultural sector. This will give a better price to our farmers and also make affordable commodities available to people, he further said.

The Commerce ministry informed the committee that 10 sectoral councils have been established so far and three more are in progress. The councils are established to provide an atmosphere of trust between the government and the industry regarding policies so that business conditions in the country can be improved.

All councils will play an advisory role as well as suggest new initiatives for the betterment of the industry. The chairman committee said that a sector-specific strategy should be adopted in consultation with the private sector while ensuring the representation of all provinces in these councils.

Senator Danesh Kumar informed the committee regarding the illegal smuggling of fisheries within Balochistan. He said that Pakistani fishermen are forced to sell their products to big international trawlers due to a lack of necessary storage and technology. If all these facilities are provided in Gwadar and adjacent areas, then the trade can be improved through legal means.

The chairman of the committee Senator Zeeshan Khanzada directed that the information on this issue should be obtained from the provincial governments and institutions and submitted to the committee so that a policy can be formulated in this regard. Senator Mirza Afridi said that the ban on the import of livestock from Afghanistan should be lifted.

On inquiring about the reasons for the delay in the board meeting of TDAP the officials told the committee that the board of TDAP does not exist at the moment, the names were sent to the cabinet for formation, but the matter was delayed due to the change in the government.

Officials said that after the formation of the new government, the names are being sent to the cabinet again and the board meeting will be called soon after the approval of the cabinet. The report of the sub-committee on the issue of import of gold was presented to the committee. The report will be reviewed in the next meeting of the committee.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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