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KARACHI: Federal Information Technology and Telecommunications Minister, Syed Amin Ul Haq on Friday revealed his government’s plan to reach $8 billion export growth in IT sector before its five-year term ends.

Speaking at the KCCI meeting with traders, he however blamed the PPP’s Sindh government for ethnic “bias” towards people of Karachi for not increasing even a single drop of water in its 13 years rule.

He said that the other provincial governments especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab developed city transportation system from their own resources but Sindh government still seeks financial aid for Karachi uplift despite the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

The Green Line - public sector transportation network in Karachi, he said, will become operational during this month, vowing the federal government will continue to support the trade and manufacturing sectors of the metropolis.

K-IV project, coasting over Rs100 billion, is going to be completed by the federal government, the minister said. He added that the Sindh government is responsible to take care of Karachi city after the 18th Constitutional Amendment but it sticks to a political “revenge” from people of the city.

So far, he said that the country’s IT export has grown to over $2 billion while the federal ministry sees its growth to $3.5 billion by next year. Over all, the government envisages about $8 billion export growth in IT sector before its term ends. In the last government, he said, IT export was mere $995 million.

He said that the ministry is set to expand “Made in Pakistan” brand through global marketing with a focus on Middle East and the US markets for its locally manufactured mobile phones.

About Rs6 billion, he said, the government has allocated in this connection, out of which, Rs2 billion the Federal Information Technology Ministry has received.

“For a long term plan,” Amin-ul-Haq said that his ministry is keen to expand the country’s own IT products, since global demand stands for animation and gaming. Work is under way to reach out to the global markets with the local brands, he said.

Nearly 25,000 IT students graduate from universities and academic institutions every year, he said and added that there is a need to equip them with the latest technical knowledge so that they could be productive.

The ministry is working on setting up a data centre for Karachi, he said and added that “before June, we will complete data centre in Karachi”. Lahore and Islamabad, he said, are already having such centres.

Census is starting with the help of technology as now the digital devices will also make headcounts with geo-tagging so that exact population could be registered.

About Rs31 billion have been spent on digital connectivity in the country mainly focusing on underdeveloped parts. Mobile phones availability with the common public has reached to 180 million from 160 million so far.

Similarly, broadband internet service has also grown. “My vision is Made in Pakistan” to export local IT products though importers made efforts to convince me to drop the plan and let the imports overwhelm the nations.

He said that the country has begun making mobile phones locally. The main vision of this government is to help grow digital Pakistan, Amin Ul Haq told the KCCI meeting. He said that there is a plot near the civil aviation land where IT Park will be established. The park is expected to generate around 8000 jobs in this filed. “A foundation stone will be laid for the IT Park before June,” he said.

Earlier, President KCCI, Muhammad Idrees raised scores of issues during his inaugural speech and welcomed the minister on the stage. He informed the minister that the KCCI has 55,000 members that is highest in the country if compared to any other tradesmen platform.

The industry, he said, needed digitalisation and automation to compete globally as the SMEs are still functioning with obsolete technology.

He urged for a nexus between industry and the universities to produce a quality skilled professionals to meet the modern day digital challenges.

He feared that the use of old technology may hurt the country’s export growth, hoping the booming IT sector could take the nation to a new high of industrial output.

India’s IT export stands at $134 billion but Pakistan lags far behind with only $2 billion export so far. He said that there is a huge potential in Pakistan. He recommended that the Export Development Fund that is levied on exporters should be used into developing the IT related projects meant for the vocational training.

Muhammad Idrees complained that neither the federal nor the provincial governments are ready to develop Karachi’s infrastructure, despite the city’s export share is 52 percent alone.

Chairman Businessmen Group, Zubair Motiwala assured the government of support from the KCCI to help its plans to grow the country’s IT export to a record high. However, he said that the government should consult with the stakeholders in its decision making process.Javed Bilwani, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group and Senior Vice President KCCI, Abdul Rahman Naqi, along with scores of traders attended the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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