- Umar Saif says that officially Pakistan’s IT exports stand at $1 - 1.25bn but the actual figures stand at $3-3.5bn.
The lack of skilled manpower in the IT sector is a major hurdle in the way of IT sector growth in Pakistan, said computer scientist and former Chairman PITB Dr. Umar Saif.
Talking to a private channel, Saif said that the IT industry in Pakistan is taking off and is growing. As per Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), 2,826 IT companies have registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) during this financial year.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a growth in e-commerce and online trading which has given a boost to the IT sector, with Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore emerging as software technology centers. As per PSEB, Pakistan IT sector export during this financial year stood at $1.3 billion that is 40 percent more than the last year.
PSEB expects Pakistan it export to reach $2.5 billion at the end of this financial year
However, Umar Saif says that officially Pakistan’s IT exports stand at $1 - 1.25bn but the actual figures stand at $3-3.5bn.
“This is because IT exports don't have the kind of documentation as it is software export and it is done online so a lot of revenue generated is booked under remittances. Secondly, a lot of revenue does not come in Pakistan because a number of IT companies of Pakistan are registered abroad so their revenue remains in foreign countries,” said Saif.
Dr. Saif was of the view that bringing the IT sector, which was earlier tax-free into the tax regime will hamper the growth of this industry.
Comparing the IT exports of Pakistan with neighboring India, Saif said that the Indian IT exports stood at $100 billion, which is 30 times more than Pakistan's. “This is because the Indian IT industry employs over 4.5 million people as compared to Pakistan which has only 125,000 persons in this sector.”
Dr. Saif highlighted that 600,000 to 700,000 people should be working in the IT industry in Pakistan. “This is possible if our universities train such kind of people as Pakistan's historic industries are textile and agriculture, which are low-tech Industries not requiring skilled manpower. However, the IT sector requires highly skilled manpower.”
“Pakistan should emphasize on producing highly skilled IT manpower,” said Saif.