Digital policy essential for economic transformation

November 23, 2022

Ayesha Saba

Increasing digitization facilitates easy access and ensures transparency in processes, which emerging economies like Pakistan require to accelerate socioeconomic activity and development, said Jehan Ara, Founder & CEO Katalyst Labs while talking to WealthPK.

“Pakistan is in the spotlight these days about how to grow and energize its economy. This will not be accomplished by one sector alone. There is no magic bullet. However, if we focus on some of the main things that are needed for a positive push, the role of digitalization and technology will come into play,” she said.

“Investing in technology and the upskilling of people is important for socio-economic development. With the increase in the number of mobile phones and the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) possessing the database of almost all citizens, there are a large number of government services that can be provided,” she added.

“It is important to realize that a lot more investment needs to be made into building and improving the technology infrastructure as well as in the spread of digital literacy so that the people are aware of how they can use technology to access the available services. To attract more foreign investment into the technology sector, the government should ensure stability and consistency in policy,” Jehan Ara added.

“As was seen when the State Bank of Pakistan introduced new policies allowing the holding companies to settle outside Pakistan and easy flow of investment funds to and from Pakistan, the investors responded by bringing in more capital to invest in start-ups and small companies, thereby bringing the much-needed investment and creating jobs. An abrupt turn in policy makes the investors nervous.”

She elaborated that digitization and technology were key requisites for the growth of start-ups and small businesses. Access to small or large amounts of relevant data, and being able to use it to create products and offer services that solve the problems for a significant segment of society, has been seen to benefit both start-ups and SMEs in Pakistan and elsewhere, she said.

“Being able to register a company online, open an account online, enjoy transparency, and have free and immediate access to services remotely without external assistance, are all beneficial for the functioning and growth of the economy,” Jehan Ara continued.

“An increasingly digital society facilitates access to processes, which is crucial to the socioeconomic development of emerging economies such as Pakistan. This results in social and financial inclusion, and easier access to essential services like healthcare, education, and financial services, which are otherwise not available due to existing insufficient infrastructure,” she added.

The ambitious Pakistan Vision 2025 and the Digital Policy of Pakistan, which envisions a $20 billion ICT industry by 2025, is an essential pillar of our country’s economic transformation. The Government of Pakistan (GOP) continues to facilitate the IT industry through numerous sustainable development and accelerated digitization projects, research and innovation, software technology parks, subsidized bandwidth, international marketing, international certifications, as well as internships and trainings.

The incentives to bolster growth include 100% equity ownership, 100% repatriation of capital/dividends, tax exemption on IT & ITeS export revenues, tax exemptions to the start-ups and subsidized state-of-the art software technology parks.

Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk