Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the tech industry could help overcome Pakistan’s current account deficit by boosting exports as well as addressing the issue of unemployment if the sector was incentivised and facilitated.
The premier’s resolve came while he was addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Lahore Technopolis, a special technology zone (STZ).
“The project would help provide incentives to the tech industry and bring ease to businessmen, in accordance with the government’s vision,” the PM said.
The STZs, being developed all across the country, would be home to Science and Technology Parks, manufacturing units, research and development centres of global tech companies and software houses. They would also feature universities, incubators, accelerators and other ecosystem players.
Before Lahore, the premier had announced the Islamabad Technopolis earlier this year.
“The IT sector would also address the issue of unemployment of the youth, particularly the women, besides boosting the country’s exports,” the prime minister stated.
He added that all businesses had faced a slump amid the Covid-19 outbreak, but profits of tech companies like Google, Amazon and others multiplied.
“Unfortunately, Pakistan lagged behind in the sector despite having ideal conditions, including a huge population of young people,” he said, adding that within 15 to 20 years, Indian tech exports boomed to $150 billion while Pakistan's could reach only $2 billion.”
The premier further added that the country started achieving economic growth. He said the current account got disturbed owing to the import of machinery that ultimately devalued the local currency and compelled the government to approach the IMF for loans.
“The country can only come out of this cycle by boosting its exports and allowing wealth creation,” he said.
Imran added that, “China achieved remarkable progress and steered 700 million people out of poverty by eliminating corruption and jailing over 450 ministerial-level people and enhancing exports,” the premier said while citing example of the Chinese model of development
The prime minister called for redirecting the orientation of the government as well as the population towards enhancing exports and wealth creation.
He said that taking advantage of its 12 climatic zones, the country could reduce its import bill of commodities like edible oil through indigenous production of palm oil.
Calling them the biggest asset, the prime minister also emphasised the involvement of overseas Pakistanis towards investment and wealth creation in Pakistan.
“China and India had also first attracted their own firms operating abroad to invest at home,” he said. “Pakistani individuals, as well as the firms operating abroad including the Silicon Valley, were interested to invest in Pakistan which necessitated incentives and ease of doing business.”
Prime Minister Imran further stressed that the objective behind establishing the Technopolis projects in Lahore, Karachi and K-P was to make Pakistan join the tech race and provide employment to the people.
Earlier, the prime minister also distributed licences among the companies which would be operating in the Technopolis.
The event also marked the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for an investment of $300 million for the establishment of another three technology zones in different parts of the country.
CM Buzdar said Lahore had been selected as the Technopolis considering the existence of universities and other tech institutes as well as companies in the city.
“The project would help carry out technology-based researches and studies,” the provincial chief executive said.
In order to attract investment to Technopolis, the government had given a 10-year tax exemption to companies operating there. Companies from various countries like the US, Canada, China and Australia were approaching to invest here, he added.
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