Finance Minister Miftah Ismail says that his government will not roll back any incentives given to the IT sector and may further augment those incentives.
“Prime minister asked me if there was anything I want him to do at the upcoming World Economic Forum,” said Ismail during the Future Fest 2022, which was attended by hundreds of startups, freelancers, and people from other industries such as banks and officials of venture capitals in Islamabad recently.
“I requested him to ask PayPal to come to Pakistan because I have been told by many freelancers that they faced difficulty in getting remuneration from foreign clients.”
“We want to facilitate you and we are not doing it out of sympathy for you but for our selfish reason. The IT sector is the last hope for Pakistan,” he said at the event, which concluded on Sunday.
Ismail said that the government should not regulate any upcoming industry such as IT and don’t be bothered if they earn some money for a few years.
“We have been giving subsidies to the textile sector for three generations.”
Ismail said that Pakistan has been ruled by the elite 1 percent, which has been the reason Pakistan is in this crisis.
“Half of the cabinet and judiciary hail from just one school. Their children continue to rule. Most of the businesspersons come from one school in Karachi. Power in Pakistan is centered around one percent of the people. There’s a scarcity of a level playing field. This restricts merited people from getting a chance, who can actually make a difference,” he said.
“Digital is the true democracy where you can make your presence by your efforts,” he added.
The Finance Minister further said that Pakistan is in a crisis because property holders in the country paid only Rs. 500 billion in annual taxes while common people paid Rs. 3,500 billion in taxes.
“It shows property holders have influence over the system in Pakistan,” he said.
Ismail said that commodity prices have gone up internationally significantly. He said that, for instance, Pakistan used to import $2 billion of oil despite the fact that we consider Pakistan to be an agricultural country. It has now gone up to $4 billion and is expected to rise to $6.5 billion which is unsustainable.
He said that 80 percent of the local manufacturers manufacture to cater to the local demand therefore Pakistan has little to sell to the rest of the world. There’s a need to divert industry towards exports.
He said that the government is trying to facilitate the IT industry and give zero percent tax, allowing repatriation of money to encourage investment.
The State Bank’s Acting Governor Dr. Murtaza Syed said that the State Bank’s initiative of Roshan Digital Accounts has played a very important role.
“RDA story is worth telling,” he said. He said that $4.1 billion came through RDA in 18 months. Meanwhile, Pakistan got an FDI of $1 billion and through the IMF program $3 billion during the same period.
He added that RDA has immense potential as 7.9 million Pakistanis live abroad.
Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik said that artificial intelligence could prove to be very helpful in tax collection as it helped countries such as Russia.
He added that new technologies could help find millions of potential taxpayers through asset profiling.