The digital arena of Pakistan is going through rapid evolution as the country has been ranked fourth in freelance development in the world, said Board of Investment (BOI) Secretary Fareena Mazhar.

Speaking at a seminar, organised by the BOI on Monday to apprise foreign investors of the investment policies and potential of Pakistan, Mazhar said that the government was committed to encouraging and protecting foreign investment in the country.

She highlighted that there were 22 approved Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Pakistan while four of them had state-of-the-art facilities and business ecosystems for investment as “early harvest projects”.

“BOI is leading the Pakistan Regulatory Modernisation Initiative (PRMI), which is a key initiative to modernise local businesses through technological intervention for providing a conducive business environment,” she said.

Talking about information technology (IT), she informed seminar participants that the sector – being one of the fastest growing areas – was contributing around 1%, or about $3.5 billion, to the gross domestic product (GDP).

The growth of the sector doubled in the past couple of years, and experts expected it to grow 100% in the next two to four years to $7 billion, she added.

“Pakistan’s IT market is full of qualified people who are equipped to cater to the needs of the market at relatively low costs,” said Mazhar.

Pakistan developed its first National Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy in 2012, she highlighted, adding that innovation had been properly documented as being a long-term strategy for driving economic growth.

Outlining the digital landscape of Pakistan, the secretary shared that according to US technology giant Google, Pakistan was becoming the “Digital-First Country” and creating new opportunities for businesses to digitally engage with consumers.

Explaining the incentives, she said that Pakistan was offering zero income tax on IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) exports till June 2025, 100% foreign ownership of IT and ITES companies and 100% repatriation of profit by foreign IT investors to their home countries.

The secretary stated that economic uplift was an area of priority for the government, which was introducing economic reforms to increase the confidence of business community and help the country excel in all sectors.

“Numerous multinational companies are currently operating in Pakistan and the government is committed to protecting and encouraging foreign investment,” she said and assured the seminar participants that BOI would facilitate the investors and help them execute their investment plans.

On the occasion, she highlighted the opportunities and incentives offered by the government in the priority sectors including IT, automotive, logistics, food processing, etc.

The theme of the seminar was investment opportunities in education and technological innovation, which was attended by foreign investors and overseas Pakistanis either physically or virtually.

The participants expressed interest in the existing opportunities in Pakistan and government policies to attract investment in the emerging sectors.

Among others, officials of the Special Technology Zones Authority, National University of Sciences and Technology, Evamp and Saanga, Lenovo and Ecolean participated in the seminar.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2021.

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