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November 28, 2020

Rationalisation and development of IT infrastructure

Islamabad

November 28, 2020

Islamabad : Member Prime Minister’s Taskforce on IT and Telecommunication, Pervez Iftikhar, has said that tax rationalisation for ICT sector and development of telecom infrastructure in Pakistan would play a vital role in order to address existing digital divide and to promote digital trade in Pakistan.

He was sharing his views at a virtual workshop on ‘Toward achieving a sustainable regional integration in Pakistan: digital trade and health integration,’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute(SDPI) in collaboration with UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific here Friday.

Mr Iftikhar said that all stakeholders need to put collaborative efforts to provide enabling environment with the focus on information technology and telecommunication in the country.

Dr Yann Duval, ESCAP, said that the country study on with SDPI on digital exports aims at playing a facilitating role to support decision-makers prioritising different areas of regional integration.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said that the policy interventions are required to boost Pakistan’s digital exports. The areas he identified included addressing any gaps in the legal framework and regulations, investment policy for technology sector; making tax regime consistent across Federation, enabling commercial banks to understand digital business ecosystem, improving data protection as well as strengthening consumer rights, relaxation in foreign exchange movement for foreign investors, and addressing overall skills and digital literacy.

He observed that promotion of digital trade products and services should be integral part of any free trade agreements signed by Pakistan

Dr Adil Nakhuda, from Institute of Business Administration opined that Pakistan is competitive in limited number of products which limits the level of diversification in exports basket. He recommended that regular meetings of health ministers must be organised to exchange knowledge on tackling health challenges among neighboring countries.

Aisha Moriani, Joint Secretary WTO at Ministry of Commerce, informed the participants that the government took some key initiatives such as e-Commerce Policy of Pakistan, National e-Commerce Council, mutual recognition agreements related to the manpower export, food products and medical supplies. Besides, the Ministry is putting efforts to facilitate the entrepreneurs with respect to the international payments in collaboration with the National Institutional Facilitation Technologies.

Afnan Khan from Board of Revenue revealed that the Pakistan Single Window will be launched in March 2021 that would be a steppingstone to promote unified registration and strengthen e-commerce in country.

Raza Sukhera from Ministry of Information Technology informed the participants that MoIT is prioritising the data protection guidelines, facilitating the freelancers through developing digital portal, and engagements with tax authorities to address tax related issues. He said that in first quarter of this year, tremendous growth in IT sector was observed and to sustain this, continuous policy interventions are required.

Ghulam Qadir from National Tariff Commission proposed to conduct a study to ascertain the missing element of e-commerce in existing international trade agreements.

Earlier, Abdus Salam from Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority briefed the participants that PPRA has developed certain rules to eliminate the discriminatory measures. Dr Shahbaz Nasir from PTA added that PTA is working extensively to provide high speed and stable connectivity across Pakistan whereas Syed Minahil from 1-link explained that his organization aims to enhance the network of boundary-less digital payment grid and related ecosystems.