Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a zero tax rate for freelancers in the information technology sector and assured “all-out facilitation” to the young entrepreneurs.
The announcement was made at the launch of e-commerce portal called ‘National e-Tijarat Portal’ in Islamabad. PM Khan said that the government is committed to empowering youth with digital skills that can transform lives, drive revenue growth and help bridge the country’s trade deficit.
He added that digital technologies offer great opportunities for Pakistani women. The prime minister hoped that with government support, the country’s IT exports can “reach $50 billion in a few years.”
Key features of the e-commerce portal
• The portal would offer freelancers access to education and marketplace opportunities to help entrepreneurs grow and excel.
• It would boost the economy to promote ‘Made-in-Pakistan’ products in every region
• An e-commerce accreditation body will be established to accredit the freelancers.
• The portal would also provide information on logistics companies, banks, online transfer facilities, shipment, market access, taxation, bookings for logistics, and live data of startups and freelancers.
Pakistan’s IT exports
PM’s special assistant on e-commerce Senator Aon Abbas Buppi said that the government aims to shift 50,000 small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) to digital platforms and make 1 million youngsters financially independent. He added that the government is making efforts to take the volume of the e-commerce trade from $4 billion to $7.5 billion by the end of 2022 and $9 billion by next year. In 2021, Pakistan’s e-commerce market was worth $4 billion while the volume of the global e-commerce market was estimated at $30 trillion in 2021 which shows the huge potential for the country, he added.
Pakistan’s technology exports cross the $2 billion mark for the first time in the country’s history in the fiscal year 2020-21. The government aims to boost the country’s technology exports by offering more incentives to local companies. Pakistan is the fourth fastest-growing freelance market globally.
Pakistan’s freelancing exports grew to $396 million during 2020-21 from 214 million last year. During the fiscal year 2021, Pakistan’s total e-banking transactions grew to approximately $500 billion - a number that exceeds Pakistan’s GDP. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has announced the launch of digital banks to allow customers easier access to financial services. Digital retail banks can prove to be a game-changer for small businesses, officials say.