KARACHI: IT professionals working for overseas clients unleashed a barrage of remittance-related complaints on Wednesday at a seminar attended by representatives of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and commercial banks.

Organised by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication in collaboration with the SBP and the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), the seminar let IT freelancers confront officials from the banking industry on the perceived effectiveness of the regime governing inward and outward dollar payments.

One of the biggest concerns among IT professionals that dominated the question-and-answer session was excessive documentation requirements and in-person branch visits despite the digital mantra of the SBP and commercial banks.

“Banks made strides in digitising their services during Covid-19, but there seems to be a reversal in their approach in subsequent years,” said one participant. Banks demand letters from PSEB and P@SHA before executing even a simple outward remittance, he added.

Another point raised by an exporter of software related to the variance in the dollar rate that banks offer to different customers on any given day.

IT professionals mentioned the exporters’ special foreign currency account, which lets them retain up to 35 per cent of their dollar earnings that might later be utilised for making different types of payments abroad. They said many branch-based bankers lacked information about such schemes, which resulted in confusion and delays for software exporters. Most responses by representatives of the banking industry centred around the theme of a lack of procedural knowledge among IT professionals. In a roundabout way, bankers blamed freelancers and software exporters for not contacting the two officially designated people in every commercial bank for a quicker resolution of their problems.

Saying his bank had 1,700 branches across the country, one banker said branch staff wasn’t always up to speed on the latest SBP circulars and other regulatory changes that gathered pace in recent years.

In response to a question about the legality of stopping an individual from using (i.e. remitting) their “earned income,” the SBP official said the restrictions on foreign exchange flows existed in view of the dollar shortage. The central bank will extend the scope of incentives to exporters of software once the economic situation improves, he said.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Good examples

Good examples

In Pakistan, the high achievements of one woman simply mean that her family of men is usually powerful enough to allow her

Editorial

Democracy damaged
Updated 28 Feb, 2024

Democracy damaged

The reserved seats controversy could have been avoided had the ECP by now decided whether SIC deserves them or not.
Misplaced priorities
28 Feb, 2024

Misplaced priorities

THE federal government’s filing of a petition with the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking to overturn an Islamabad...
Killing jirgas
28 Feb, 2024

Killing jirgas

ANOTHER day and another chilling story unfolds in Kohistan. The jirga institution, declared illegal by the top ...
New funds
27 Feb, 2024

New funds

PAKISTAN plans to seek a new loan of $6bn from the IMF under its Extended Fund Facility for a period of three years,...
Missing link
27 Feb, 2024

Missing link

WITH most of Punjab and KP now accessible via motorways, which have greatly eased road travel for the bulk of the...
Tragedy averted
Updated 27 Feb, 2024

Tragedy averted

Pakistan must shed the layers of intolerance that have been allowed to permeate society.