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Over $2bn IT exports undocumented.

State Minister for Information Technology and Telecom, Anusha Rehmanhas come down hard on the Information Technology (IT) industry while revealing that only 25 per cent of IT exports are documented while remaining inflows are coming through undocumented channels.

She said that Pakistan's IT exports range between $2.5-2.7 billion a year. However, only $500 million of IT exports are registered with State Bank of Pakistan.

"Information Technology is an entirely unregulated sector but it's not acceptable for the government to extend all sorts of support and ultimately get only undocumented exports in return," said the minister, adding that government may go tougher on IT sector.

She also hinted at regulating the IT sector while saying, "Will government not want to regulate the sector?"

She was speaking at the PSEB IT Awards 2016. The minister put direct questions to the country's top IT exporters while raising questions about discrepancies.

Exporters, on the other hand, are of the opinion that while all rules and regulations are being followed, some errors in filling forms might have resulted in discrepancies.

The minister said that the government and industry has to come together to resolve this matter while adding that these remittances should be reflected in the SBP data.

The IT exporters raised their concerns and termed security, infrastructure as major hurdles in their way. However, the minister rejected the concerns about security while saying it was a fairly general argument.

About infrastructure, the minister said that government is going to establish IT and software parks across the country to provide friendly environment to the industry.

Responding to media questions about the outcome of bringing Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) under the administrative control of IT Ministry, Anusha Rehman said Prime Minister is the Minister-In-Charge of IT Ministry as well as Cabinet Division, hence there would be no effect on these Regulatory bodies performance.

She further said that IT Ministry is already implementing its policies in collaboration with PTA. The minister added that the government's decision of bringing PTA and FAB under IT ministry would help in value addition.

Meanwhile, MsRehman said the information technology software park being set up in the federal capital would help boost exports from the country. Approval for the software park, which would be established by Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) in collaboration with Korea Exim Bank, had already been obtained, she said.

She said the information technology sector was facing many challenges. The government would help IT, telecom and software companies to improve the volume of exports, she added. Ms Anusha said the Exim Bank was investing $50 million for the IT park in the capital. The park spreading over an area of 45 acres would help promote the IT industry, local software experts, attract international companies to the local market, and increase IT exports by an estimated $120 million, she added.

Some 150 IT companies, she said, would be accommodated in the software park. She said two IT parks would be established in Lahore and Karachi also. She said the PSEB was doing valueable work and the new IT park would only further add to their efforts in strengthening Pakistan's IT industry. The main purpose of the IT park would be to drive companies in developing more hardware and software solutions, thus boosting the country's IT export, she added. Anusha said: "I am confident that with this resolve and under the visionary guidance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, we shall make Pakistan a digital Pakistan."

The minister said the Incubator in Islamabad was going to start work next month with the efforts of PTA chairman in which 3000 interns would get IT training, 30 per cent of them would be women. After Islamabad the incubators would be established in Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and backward areas of Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan, she added.

The minister said the Google team had expressed its will to work with the youth of Pakistan as they were very vibrant, intelligent and challenging. "Our main agenda is to digitalise Pakistan. Over 60 per cent of 200 million people of Pakistan comprise of young people and they are the main strength and we are here to groom them and convert them into entrepreneurs to make them productive citizens of the country," she added.

Ms Rehmansaid the actual volume of software extorts was four time more than the amount recorded by the State Bank of Pakistan. According to a survey, Pakistan's IT export revenue was Rs2.7 billion while as the SBP said it was Rs500 million, she added.

Anusha said," With our USF arm we are launching projects worth multi-billion rupees to pass on the benefits of telecommunication and broadband services to the underserved and unserved masses." The awards were distributed among 10 IT exporters, including NETSOL, Systems Limited, SandD Global Pakistan, Teradata, TRG. MTBC, Ovex Technologies, Global Payments Leader, LMKR and Mentor Graphics Pakistan.

Inbox at a glance, Infotech and NIFT were declared the top three IT domestic businesses while top three 'IT startups' were SYNERGY-IT, Venturedive and MD Vision. Estica, Solotech and Xgrid got 'innovation'awards.
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Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 31, 2017
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