June 15, 2022: Universal Service Fund (USF) of the Ministry for Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has approved eight new broadband services and fiber optic cable projects worth over Rs10 billion for providing digital services to over 3.3 million population across the country, Syed Amin ul Haq, Minister of MoITT said.
The minister was addressing a seminar titled Ease of Doing Business for IT/ITeS Industry. The seminar was organized by Sindh Information Science and Technology department in collaboration with Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and PASHA.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, CM Special Assistant Tanzila Ume Habiba, Chief secretary Sindh Suhail Rajput, Secretary Sc&IT Asif Ikram, Chairman SRB Dr. Wasif Ali Memon, Secretary-General PASHA Hira Zainab also attended the seminar.
The federal minister said that 31 villages in 7 districts of Sindh where facilities are not available or cellular phone or internet signals were very weak were included in the project and work on the projects will start from July 1 and will be completed in a short span of 16 months.
Over Rs366.40 million are allocated for the improvement of broadband services in specific villages of Thatta Sujawal, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Hyderabad, Umerkot and Tando Allahyar, he said IT ministry was spending Rs 14.43 billion on 15 projects in 19 districts in Sindh to provide facilities to more than 14.2 million people in these districts and most of the projects were in the final stages of completion.
Amin ul Haq said that his ministry was aware of the problems of the industry and believed that issues of IT companies and freelancers need to be addressed to increase IT exports.
Ease of Doing Business means removing unnecessary barriers and making things easier, Amin ul Haq said and hoped that if Ease of Doing is implemented, there is no reason for IT exports to reach record levels.
In the 1970s the first IT industry was established in Karachi and today the city was at number three in IT establishments, he said and urged the Sindh chief minister to incentivize the IT industry in the larger interest of the country.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah addressing the seminar announced that the Sindh government is all set to provide tax relief to the IT industry by reducing the Sindh Sales Tax on IT, software business, and on-call centers from 13 percent to 3 percent while a 5 year IT policy will also be unveiled soon.
The CM Sindh Shah said that relief to the IT industry would be announced in the budget speech on Tuesday under which the rate of Sindh Sales Tax on IT, software business, and on-call centers will be reduced from 13 percent to 3 percent without the input tax credit, however, large establishments those prefer standard rate with the input tax credit, shall have the option of 13 percent with input tax credit facilities.
The CM said that the Sindh government planned to roll out enabling IT infrastructure across the province with the help of Pakistan’s software export board while it was also in the process of adopting Sindh’s first “cloud-first policy” that will be unveiled in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022-23.
The policy includes coordinating with the federal Govt. for broadband for all, developing Software and IT Parks, and incentivizing Cloud services for cloud adoption by the government and economic services to startups and IT companies, he said.