IT remittances set to surge 20-25% by year-end

Govt initiatives for freelancers to boost IT remittances to over $600m mark

GOHAR ALI KHAN January 21, 2024


IT remittances through freelancers are expected to grow by 20–25% by the end of the current financial year due to various initiatives provided to the freelancing community in recent months, according to experts.

While sharing progress and challenges of the freelancers’ community with The Express Tribune, professionals of various fields are also increasing their participation on freelance platforms and switching to remote jobs for foreign companies to make handsome earnings in dollars. Not only do individuals actively bid for projects on various freelancing and social media platforms, but groups of professionals constituting small companies and established renowned software houses are also actively getting projects from foreign clients, resulting in a handsome inflow of exports in IT services.

According to estimated numbers, the share of freelancers in IT exports settled over $500 million in the outgoing financial year, likely to cross the $600 million mark by the end of the current financial year. The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has taken key initiatives recently to ensure facilities for freelancers, including allowing 50% retention of foreign currency in their specialised export accounts.

“A number of new professionals are growing in the local freelance community after acquiring skills in in-demand fields and offering projects of handsome value on freelancing platforms,” said Tufail Ahmed Khan, President, and CEO of the Pakistan Freelancers Association (PAFLA). In Pakistan, several educational institutions, online learning platforms, and welfare organisations are actively offering free courses in different fields. Besides, many software houses also offer training and paid internships, resulting in a gradual growth in skilled staff in the fields of IT and e-commerce, he added

ReadFreelancers can generate $10b in tech exports’

In addition to full-time freelancers, several professionals, mainly in different fields of IT, are actively freelancing as a side hustle to make extra money for savings and beat inflation, he said.

Pakistan’s freelance community is gradually growing, marking a third place in the world. The number of full-time freelancers is estimated to stand at 1.5 million, and more than 1.5 million freelancers can be considered part-timers.

“Despite incentives and prerogatives offered by the government, freelancers still face three main issues; payment transfers, slow internet speed, and often a sudden disruption of internet services in the country, and power load shedding-cum-outages,” said Mirza Hadi Baig, IT coach, and freelancer as a website developer. He said while foreign customers are fully aware of these problems in the country, once they hire services, they pester freelancers to complete work on time because of these hindrances.

Muhammad Yasir, an analyst of IT and finance, said groups of freelancers should work on high-ticket and long-term projects for foreign clients in emerging fields of IT. He said the business of freelancing should be promoted to the next level through providing opportunities for partnership and collaboration among freelancers, which can be done through virtual societies and co-working spaces.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21th, 2024.

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