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ISLAMABAD: The Information Telecommunication (IT) and IT enabled Services (ITeS) export remittances comprising computer services and call center services surged by 23.71 percent to $1.230 billion in the fiscal year 2019-2020 compared to $994.848 million during the same period last year (2018-2019). This has been revealed in the performance report of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the attached department of the Ministry of IT and Telecom, here on Friday.

The ITeS export remittances surged from $1.11 billion in May 2020 to $1.230 billion in June 2020 registering a nominal growth of $0.12 million compared to around $76 million during the same period of the previous year (2018-2019) as it went up from $917.875 million to $994.848 million. The ministry has set target to increase this volume to $5 billion in the next three years.

The ministry spokesperson said that the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication was committed to increasing the IT exports and taking special steps in that regard. Federal Minister for IT & Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq has directed the PSEB to take every possible step for achieving target of IT exports remittances.

He said under the prime minister's vision of "Digital Pakistan", it was vital to take forward all the matters related to information technology and connect the youth especially students to the digital world. He said that the Ministry of IT was playing an important role regarding coping the Covid-19 pandemic through information technology, adding that the coronavirus cases were now declining in the country.

The generous incentives from the government and various projects to enhance capacity and capability of the IT industry have resulted in strong industry growth rates. Incentives to the industry include zero income tax on IT and ITeS exports till June 2025, tax breaks for the PSEB-registered IT start-ups for three years, up to 100 percent foreign ownership of IT and ITeS companies, up to 100 percent repatriation of profits for foreign IT and ITeS investors, tax holiday for venture capital funds till 2024, among other incentives.

Spokesperson of the ministry told Business Recorder that 6,000 Pakistan-based IT companies were providing IT products and services to entities in over 100 countries. Pakistan was ranked the 3rd most popular country for freelancing in the world, and Pakistani IT companies are providing products and services to the world's largest companies. Pakistan's ICT Industry has been a resounding success story for Pakistan, having achieved a stellar remittance inflow growth rate, and being the largest net exporter in the services sector.

Secretary MoITT Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui told Business Recorder that the government was focused on increasing IT sector exports as soon as possible. "All the stakeholders are on board and the target is very much achievable," Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui stated that the PSEB had highly-trained and experienced asset in the form of commercial counselors in important cities around the world, and that they could contribute significantly in projecting Pakistan's IT and ITeS sector around the globe. He directed the PSEB to engage and utilize the services of Pakistan's commercial counselors to enhance Pakistan's IT and ITeS exports, and for facilitating Pakistan's IT companies in the overseas markets.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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