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ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry has assured of reducing advance income tax on telecom sector from 12.5 percent to 10 percent in the upcoming budget for 2021-22, said Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque.

Addressing on the occasion, the minister said that a meeting was held with the Minister for Finance, who assured that upcoming budget would reflect the reduced income tax, adding telecom sector would be given the status of industry from the next financial year.

Haque, on Wednesday, laid the foundation stone of Information Technology Park Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, which would be built with an estimated cost of Rs13.70 billion in 28 months.

The IT Park would be developed with state-of-the-art infrastructure and allied facilities for ICT companies with financial assistance of Rs13.70 billion @ 0.1 percent for 40 years by the Exim Bank, Korea.

Groundbreaking ceremony of Islamabad IT Park was held here Wednesday, where Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Suh Sangpyo was also present on the occasion.

Addressing the ceremony, Haque said it was very important news for the masses that the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication was going to establish a state-of-the-art IT Park at Chak Shahzad, Islamabad.

The IT Park Islamabad will consist of 12 storeys (10 storeys above and two storeys underground) self-contained building having covered area of 66,893 square meters.

The federal minister said that the project for establishing IT Park in Islamabad was linked with the steps for fulfilling the Digital Pakistan Vision, which not only mitigated the shortage of infrastructure for IT sector but also facilitated technology transfer through industry-academia linkage, support technology commercialisation, links tertiary education and production, promote research and development, and enhances IT exports and industry competitiveness.

He said Islamabad IT Project was expected to provide over 5,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities during construction phase and about 15,000 employment opportunities to IT experts, students and persons concerning industry after its completion. He said that similar type of IT Park would be established in Karachi soon.

The Federal Minister for IT said Islamabad IT Park initially provided office space to around 120 start-ups and small to medium enterprises and other ancillary facilities such as testing laboratories, class rooms, industry-academia linkage centre, and auditorium etc.

He noted that presently, total number of software technology parks (STPs) in Pakistan was 15 including three in Islamabad, two in Rawalpindi, Lahore eight, and one each in Karachi and Gilgit.

He said “we want to establish software technology parks in small and big cities of the country,” adding the Ministry of IT’s attached department the Pakistan Software Export Board was working to establish software technology parks in Quetta, Gwadar, Faisalabad, Bannu, Swat, Mardan, Sukkur, and Hyderabad.

He further said that projects worth Rs31 billion had been initiated for connecting and providing broadband services in the un-served and under-served areas of the country during the last two and a half years.

He further said that first ever cabinet meeting in the history of Pakistan was held paperless, while Parliament business would be held paperless from January 2023.

Further, training sessions will also be held for senior parliamentarians on the use of tablets.

The minister said whilst penetration of 4G services was being increased, the 5G wireless technology would be introduced by December 2022.

He said the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication was committed to provision of telecom service across the country including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

He said Pakistan’s IT export remittances had surged to $1.70 billion at a growth rate of 46 percent during July-April of fiscal year 2020-21, in comparison to $1.17 billion during the same period last financial year.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of Republic of Korea Suh Sangpyo said the IT Park constructions were key projects of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF).

In year 2019, a framework agreement was signed with Pakistan to provide 500 million dollars of the EDCF loans that gave financial space for the construction of infrastructure in Pakistan.

“Today, we witness together a tangible outcome of EDCF projects,” he added.

He said it was very positive that revolutionary steps were being taken in IT and Telecommunication sector of Pakistan and Islamabad IT Park would prove an important milestone for the Ministry of IT and Pakistani skilled persons.

Secretary IT Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, officers of the Ministry of IT and Telecom, the MoITT attached departments’ heads and important personalities from the IT industry were present on the occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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