Tax exemption for startups on the cards

Published May 22, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting on matters related to Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications and National Information Technology Board on May 21, 2024. — Photo via PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting on matters related to Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications and National Information Technology Board on May 21, 2024. — Photo via PID

ISLAMABAD: The government has devised a plan to facilitate startups through tax exemption and help them in the fields of health technology, artificial intelligence, financial technology and agriculture technology.

This was revealed during a meeting on the matters related to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications and National Information Technology Board (NITB), presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday.

When contacted, Minister of State for Information Technology Shaza Fatima Khawaja said the facility of tax exemption was aimed at overcoming a disparity between private individuals and those startups who are working with some organisations and firms.

She said there was zero tax for private individuals while those working with organisations have to pay 35 per cent tax. During the meeting, the prime minister told the State Bank governor that there should be no hurdles from banks with regard to debit cards and foreign currency issues of the exporters of software products.

PM asks SBP to streamline foreign payment issues for software exporters

The PM ordered formation of a special committee to evaluate the performance of NITB. He directed the authorities concerned to hold consultations with the private sector aimed at encouragement of startups and provision of facilities to them.

The meeting was apprised that to achieve the target of $25 billion IT exports till 2029, tech services and captive IT business would be broadened; besides, Pakistan Digital Commission was also being established and in this regard, required legislation was being made.

It was informed that with automation in business transactions, innovations would be brought to health, education and agriculture sectors. Under the Pakistan Digital Nation project, the government affairs and economy would be digitised, the meeting was told.

The prime minister was apprised that a target of imparting training to about 1.5 million people in the IT sector over the next five years had been set.

The meeting was informed that under the public-private partnership, international certifications would be ensured for the IT professionals, while three IT parks and 250 e-Rozgar centres would be set up.

During the meeting, various proposals were presented for the promotion of the telecommunication sector through short-, medium- and long-term measures. According to them, the target for taking mobile broadband coverage up to 100MBPS was also set while the fibre penetration would be enhanced to 12 per cent.

Speaking on the occasion, PM Shehbaz stressed the need for maximum utilisation of opportunities in the IT sector as the country possessed immense potential in this field. He said the government was taking all possible steps for the promotion of the IT sector and urged the IT industry to play its role in the country’s economy by supporting the government.

He observed that Pakistani entrepreneurs had played a very critical role in the promotion and development of the IT sector. He directed suitable steps be taken to improve the quality of 4G services in the country.

The prime minister ordered resolution of issues faced by the IT industry for further enhancing of harmony between the government and the industry.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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