IT export figures under-reported -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

IT export figures under-reported

Out of 140 software firms, only 17 share data with authorities

KARACHI: Out of the total 140 software companies exporting different products to various parts of the world, only 17 share their annual export figures with the relevant authorities, which is considered the major reason for lower than official export figures.

Figures compiled by the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB show the country has 380 registered companies, including 140 software houses, which are serving foreign clients with services in different categories.

“We have been trying to net each and every company while compiling export figures in coordination with the State Bank,” said Yusuf Hussain, PSEB Managing Director. “Unfortunately, now only 17 companies report their export figures to the institutions concerned, which is seen as total software and IT exports from the country.”

He said the mechanism to register export data also mattered when the total cost of services was calculated by the end of a fiscal in June every year. The State Bank of Pakistan, however, he added, was making efforts to make the figures authentic with a true picture of the industry’s capability.

The country’s exports of software and information technology and IT-enabled services rose to $116 million in 2006-07 from $72 million a year before, against the target of $108 million set by PSEB. The IT industry emerged the fastest growing sector a few years ago mainly supported by a phenomenal jump in call centre operations during the past two years.

Both the authorities and software companies fly high eyeing $10 billion by 2010 on higher demand from the outer world of Pakistani skills and effective image-building campaign. However, the PSEB chief says the country still owes a larger size of IT industry, which is much more skilled and in demand compared with other competing countries.

“In fact we follow the 1992 Economic Act, which suggests a way whereby we can count the size of our industry and of export figures,” he said. “In fact we have an industry of the size of $2 billion, which is not small in any sense and is growing at a staggering pace.”

He said the State Bank registered the export figures under the BPM 5 Reporting system, which restricted the number to $116 million by the end of 2006-07. However, he added, such practice was not followed in India, which was considered the largest exporters of software and IT products.

“The Reserve Bank of India actually registers the figures under the BPM 6 Reporting System, which jacks up its exports to billions of dollars,” added the PSEB MD. He said under such system, India reported $1.4 billion software exports by March 2006-07 and if the same formula was applied for exports, the country’s exports could reach $1.4 billion by the fiscal end.

Among other facilities call centre operations have played a vital role in our export figures. Defined as a unit, the call centres have adequate telecom facilities, trained manpower and access to database providing information to customers.

The progress in telecom technology has made it possible that the person handling a call could be anywhere provided that communication and interaction is properly handled. Growth in business from Western companies has inspired local investors to explore new opportunities.
Source: The News