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KARACHI: With a cost of around Rs 31 billion, the Information Technology and Telecommunication ministry has acquired a piece of land from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) near Karachi Airport for the construction of a much-needed IT Park, and groundbreaking of the project is being held any time this month.

Also, IT ministry is going to launch 5G technology in four major cities of the country by March next year.

This was informed by Federal Minister for the IT and Telecommunication Aminul Haq while addressing a meeting with traders at Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) here. MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Federal Maritime Affairs minister Faisal Ali Subzwari accompanied him on this occasion.

The IT Park will be equipped with the state of the art facilities. Once the project is completed, it will give jobs to our youths who can enhance their professional skills and earn handsome revenues, said the minister. “We will fix minimum rent for the small and medium sized IT firms where they can expend businesses and help Pakistan grow in this sector,” he said.

“The land has been acquired at the cost of Rs 31 billion from Civil Aviation Authority. All process has been completed, and the groundbreaking is being held this month.”

He invited KCCI members to attend the ceremony, saying the IT Park is very crucial for the growth the IT industry and exports. Construction of an IT park was long demand of Karachi’s business community and “I had promised with them meet this very demand,” the minister said.

“I wanted to launch 5G in December this year; however, the deadline has been extended for a couple of months due the ongoing political ups and downs. “Now, the 5G technology will be launched in four major cities by March next year,” the minister said.

Amin said he has set an ambitious target of $15 billon IT exports in the next five years and wants to compete with the textile sector which has the major share in country’s total exports.

“When I took over the charge of ministry, the IT exports were even less than $ 1 billion. With the help of stakeholders, we developed future course of action for the growth of IT exports.” In fiscal year 2019-20, the country’s IT exports up from $ 1 billion to $1.4 billion, and in the FY 2020-21 exports were record $2.1 billion.” He said: “we are expecting $3 billion plus by this year, and $ 5 billion next year.”

Aminul Haq said that the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the last cabinet meeting has asked him to enhance the IT exports to $15 billion in five years.

“I have demanded from the PM two things - twist the ears of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and he has agreed upon this,” he said.

Youths comprise Pakistan’s 60 percent population. Every year, around 26,000 IT graduates enter into the market, and of them only 5,000 to 6,000 join IT sector. “We have taken onboard the academia. Now different universities are going to offer degrees on artificial intelligence, cyber security, 3D printing animations, etc.”

He said in order to improve connectivity; the IT ministry has invested some Rs 60 billion across the country.

The minister said: “We are enhancing 1.4 million 4G penetration in the country every month. Today, we have signed a contract to lay down fibre optics at the cost of Rs 5 billion which will connect 1,367 towers across Larkana Badin, Jamshoro, etc.”

Khalid Maqbool, on this occasion, asked business community to raise voice for the political rights of MQM-P. He said MQM has always made its efforts to get due rights of Karachi. He said the next general elections will be held after fresh census. He said the MQM has made written agreements with the PML-N and PPP in the greater interest of Karachi.

Faisal Ali Subzwari left the meeting after a brief speech, saying he was to join an important meeting with the CM Sindh and vowed to convene yet another detailed discussions with KCCI on issues related to his ministry.

KCCI President Muhammad Idrees, prominent business leaders including BMG Chairman Zubair Motiwala, Javed Bilwani, A.Q Khalil and others also spoke, and apprised the visiting ministers about their issues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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