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LAHORE: Terming boosting of exports and creation of jobs as two main issues, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the country can make progress rapidly by revolutionizing the information technology sector and boosting exports.

While addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of Special Technical Zone, Technopolis, on Thursday, the PM said that hurdles in business were being removed to accelerate economic activities. “If incentivized and facilitated, the technology industry could help overcome the current account deficit of the country by boosting exports as well as addressing the issue of unemployment,” he said.

It may be added that the special technology zones, being developed all across the country, would be home to science and technology parks, manufacturing units, research and development centres of global tech companies and software houses. They will also feature universities, incubators, accelerators and other ecosystem players. Before Lahore, Islamabad Technopolis was also announced earlier this year.

The premier said as the country started achieving economic growth, the current account got disturbed owing to the import of the machinery which ultimately devalued the local currency and made the country approach IMF for loans. The country can only come out of this cycle unless it boosts its exports and allows wealth creation, he said.

Imran Khan said the project would help provide incentives to the tech industry and bring ease for the businessmen, in accordance with the government’s vision. He said the purpose of Lahore Technopolis is to provide facilities to Pakistani companies.

Citing example of China, he said that China has achieved economic power status through controlling corruption at a higher level and boosting exports. He said that China achieved remarkable progress and steered 700 million people out of poverty by eliminating corruption by jailing over 450 ministerial-level people and enhancing exports.

Exemplifying Amazon, Google and other tech giants, Imran said during Covid-19, all other businesses had faced a slump but the profits of the tech companies multiplied during the pandemic. Unfortunately, Pakistan lagged behind in the sector despite having ideal conditions including a huge young population, he said, adding: “Within 15-20 years, Indian tech exports boomed to $150 billion while Pakistan could reach only $2 billion,” he said.

The premier said taking advantage of its 12 Climatic Zones, the country could reduce its import bill of commodities like edible oil through indigenous production of palm oil.

He also called for involving the overseas Pakistanis towards investment and wealth creation in Pakistan. China and India had also first attracted their own firms operating abroad to invest at home, he added. He said the Pakistani individuals, as well as, the firms operating abroad including the Silicon Valley were interested to invest in Pakistan which necessitated incentives and ease of doing business.

The premier lauded Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and others for allocating 800 acres of land for the purpose, which, he said, was the future of the world.

However, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said on the occasion that Lahore had been selected for the Technopolis considering the existence of universities and other tech institutes, as well as, companies in the city. He said the project would help carry out technology-based researches and studies. In order to attract investment to Technopolis, the government had given a 10-year tax exemption to companies operating there. The companies from various countries like US, Canada, China and Australia were approaching to invest there, he added. He said that the Special Technology Zone and Knowledge Park will develop the region.

Earlier, the prime minister also distributed licenses among the companies which would be operating in the Technopolis. The event also marked the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for an investment of $300 million for the establishment of another three technology zones in different parts of the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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