Unhappy Amin asks finance minister to address grievances of IT industry

Published November 8, 2022
Minister Amin-ul-Haque unveils the plaque of the IT Park project on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Minister Amin-ul-Haque unveils the plaque of the IT Park project on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: In a thinly veiled warning to the federal government, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haque on Monday demanded that Minister Ishaq Dar review excessive taxes on the IT industry and listen to their grievances otherwise it would not be possible for his party — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — to continue with such a “non-serious attitude”.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the country’s largest IT Park project, he said as a representative of IT industry he would support and stand by its demands and would make every possible effort in removing all hurdles.

“I stand with the IT industry and its demand...unnecessary hurdles and delays should come to an end,” he said, adding: “I ask the finance minister to take up these issues in line with the directives of the prime minister and show seriousness. We support our IT industry as it’s the future of our youngsters and our country.”

And then came the warning. “You [Mr Dar] should keep in mind that if we would not remain in government, you will also not.”

Lays foundation stone of Rs41bn Karachi IT Park

Minister Haque was clearly referring to his party’s numerical strength that is vital for the survival of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led coalition government.

His reaction came amid his back-to-back meetings with the representatives of the IT industry who demanded removal of 0.25 per cent tax imposed on export proceeds of computer software or IT services through the Finance Bill 2022.

The IT minister had time and again took up the issue with the coalition government and pleaded the case of the industry. However, his efforts have yielded no positive result so far.

In his speech, Mr Haque reiterated that the IT industry was “the future of the country” and referred the Karachi IT Park project as one of his efforts to strengthen the infrastructure for the emerging opportunities.

With an aim to create more than 20,000 jobs for IT professionals and to make the city a “gateway for innovative future”, the federal ministry of IT and Telecom (MOITT) is undertaking the country’s largest IT Park project.

The land for the project has been provided by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority on a 30-year lease near Karachi Airport.

The 11-storey building is expected to be completed in June 2026 with an estimated cost of more than Rs41 billion.

Mr Haque congratulated the people of Karachi as well as whole country and said that the project was the first priority his party, the MQM-P.

“This is the largest IT project of its kind in Pakistan and it will benefit not only the people of Karachi, but also IT professionals and companies of Sindh and the rest of Pakistan,” he said.

“It’s the history of my party [MQM-P] that whenever we have resources and authority, we don’t lose a second to avail the opportunity and make sure that these resources and authority are utilised only for public service. The IT Park initiative is one such example.”

He shared brief details of the IT Park saying that facility would offer office space to over 225 small-to-medium enterprises and other ancillary facilities like testing laboratories, classrooms, industry academia linkage centre and auditorium and would generate more than 20,000 jobs for IT professionals.

He said that around 70 projects had been started in rural parts of Sindh in three years and about 20 new projects worth Rs16bn are also under way.

He said the federal government had made a mobile phone manufacturing policy and today there were 29 companies manufacturing smartphones in Pakistan.

The minister said IT exports had increased by 40 per cent in two years. He said country’s 44 ministries were now paperless.

He thanked the PCAA for its cooperation and partnering the project.

Sindh IT Minister Tanzeela Umm-e-Habiba, Chief Secretary Dr. Muhammad Sohail Rajput, MQM-P convener and MNA Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, representatives of IT industry, academia, trade and industry, counsel general of several countries including South Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan Software Houses Association chairman Zohaib Khan, were also present.

Exim Bank of Korea provided $180 million for the project and the remaining amount would be contributed by the federal government.

The event also featured a panel discussion on Infrastructure — Need for IT Industry.

The participants discussed the issues related to IT infrastructure in Karachi. They described supporting infrastructure as indispensable for tapping the city’s IT potential.

South Korea Ambassador to Pakistan Suh Sangpyo said cooperation with Islamabad in the IT sector would continue.

He said Karachi has the potential to become the IT hub of the region. Ambassador South Korea added the world is going through an era of IT revolution.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2022

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