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ISLAMABAD: The caretaker federal government has decided to bring the power tariff of the Telecom Industry at par with other industries by altering the federal government notification of 2004 and Finance Act 2021 and distribute 5 percent cash reward on last year’s exports among IT exporters.

The decision was taken at a recent meeting of Apex Committee of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

According to sources, in the field of Information Technology, a sectoral update was given and mismatch between demand and supply was highlighted. The policy gaps and impediments in enhancing exports were mentioned. The available IT manpower lack required skill sets.

Minister for IT&T suggested that policymakers should sit with academia to bring improvement on supply side. The KSA, UAE and Qatar have expressed interest to invest in IT projects in Pakistan and hiring of IT professionals. He added that it was important that the sectoral issues be addressed.

The SIFC decided that on IT Forex Account (IT Companies and Freelancers) joint working session would finalize and present in next Executive Committee to discuss and approve [including dissentions if any] by concerned departments/ organisations): (i) 100% USD retention and hassle-free use allowed to IT companies in Pakistan; (ii) international transfer allowed through Digital means in USD and;(iii) special interest scheme be provided on local USD accounts.

Rs7.50 per unit hike in basic power tariff okayed by Nepra

The SIFC also decided to firm up proposal for fixed tax for PSEB registered IT exporters. The FBR to develop online dispute resolution and grievance redressal pending matters be resolved within 45 days. The PSEB will be allocated appropriate funding for industry driven initiatives.

The SIFC further decided 5 percent cash reward on last year’s exports among IT exporters and increase in R&D allowance for Mobile Phone Manufacturing from 3% to 8% for 2 years.

Regulations to be drafted for smart phone financing including availability of telecom operators/third party financed smartphones/devices on installments to facilitate proliferation of mobile broadband in the country.

Cloud Procurement Framework will be concluded, cloud zones with conducive environment with requisite facilities will be earmarked.

The secretary SIFC has been directed to submit a summary to the federal cabinet to seek approval for setting up a Special Purpose Company for providing investment promotion and facilitation policy advocacy and investment advisory services.

Ministry of Privatisation, Civil Aviation and MoI&P (Pakistan Steel) will upgrade on device and upgrade existing Brownfield investment opportunities through the platform provided by SIFC to ensure timely completion of needful activities.

During the meeting landmarks highlighted included engagement of investment bank for assessment of the projects and visit of high level delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The KSA delegation had particular interest in Mines, Mineral, Power, Agriculture and Plasma Products.

The SAPM was also apprised about the issues raised by the delegation from KSA. These included repatriation of dollars, investment protection, additional benefits for KSA, and dispute resolution mechanism.

Delay in project processing, concerning Aramco and ACWA power, was also mentioned. The delegation showed interest in importing meat and rice. Similarly, update in the fields of energy and minerals was also given.

The committee was also briefed about the progress in conception of Special Purpose Vehicle for investment facilitation.

The IT minister suggested that mitigation of the threefold-challenge in the agriculture sector (lack of quality seed, fertiliser, and inadequate irrigation facilities) called for technology up-gradation, easy access to credit, and crop insurance through the establishment of modern agriculture-eco-system.

The CM KPK stressed the completion of Chasma Right Bank Canal which would significantly enhance cultivable area in the province. The minister for Planning & Development stressed on productivity gains through development of infrastructure and better-quality inputs.

Minister for Finance emphasised local investment along with FDI. The minister for Foreign Affairs pointed out that Pakistan has 6th largest reserves of shale gas, which should be made part of the SlFC driven projects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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