The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, witnessed the contract signing of Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan worth Rs 2.769 billion in total, awarded by Universal Service Fund to Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone). The contract signed between USF and Ufone marks the launch of Mobile Broadband Internet/3G Services by Ufone in Dera Bugti and Kharan-Washuk in the province of Baluchistan. It was followed by a contract signing ceremony for establishment of National Incubation Centres in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The contracts were signed between National ICT R&D Fund and TPL Trakker, LUMS and LMKT, respectively. Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan, Secretary IT & Telecom, senior officials of Ministry of IT & Telecom, diplomats and senior executives for IT & Telecom companies were also present on the occasion.
The Broadband for Sustainable Development project it may be added, would provide Mobile Broadband Internet/3G services in the yet un-served areas of Dera Bugti Lot (District of Dera Bugti includes Tehsils of Dera Bugti, Sui, Pir Koh, Baiker, Loti, Malam, Sangsillah and district of Kohlu comprises Kohlu, Mawand, Kahan tehsils), consisting of 396 un-served Mauzas with population of 333,100, and Kharan-Washuk Lot (District of Kharan includes Kharan Tehsil and Distrcit of Washuk comprises Washuk and Besima Tehsil), consisting of 289 un-served muzas in Balochistan with population of 222,000.
Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister said that the development and promotion of Pakistan’s IT sector is an area of priority for the present government. He congratulated the Ministry of IT & Telecom, USF, National ICT R&D Fund, and all stakeholders involved in the aforementioned contract signings. He said that the Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan would enable the increase of broadband coverage in the country. He further stated that the establishment of the National Incubation Centres would assist in channelling the entrepreneurial drive amongst young graduates of the nation.
The Finance Minister said that government has announced special incentives for the IT sector in the budget for FY 2017-18. He highlighted that the government is setting up an IT Park in Islamabad with the assistance of Korean EXIM Bank. He also said that IT export houses / companies shall be allowed to open Foreign Exchange Accounts in Pakistan going forward. He informed the audience about various measures to promote usage of smartphones in the country. He highlighted that start-up software houses shall be exempted from Income Tax for the first 3 years, and that exports of IT services from Islamabad and other Federal territories shall be exempted from Sales Tax. He said that, in addition to IT companies, these incentives will also be available for IT-enabled services
Minister for IT & Telecom Anusha Rehman said that the Government of Pakistan is striving to increase the level of telecom penetration significantly in the under-served and un-served areas. She said that the launch of the National Incubation Centres in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar is yet another important milestone in the Government of Pakistan’s digital agenda. She highlighted that a National Incubation Centre has already been established in Islamabad. She further said that a comprehensive national level technical training program for freelancers is also being launched this year which will train approximately 1 million freelancers within the span of 2 years. She highlighted that a nation-wide “ICT for Women Entrepreneurship Development Program” has already been launched to tap the entrepreneurial potential of Pakistani women. She said that the program will train a total of 500 women from across the country.