‘IT sector should be government’s top priority’
LAHORE: As the new pro-business government begins its tenure, P@SHA, the trade association representing the information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing sector, is hopeful that some key initiatives will be taken to ensure that the tech industry has the facilitation it needs to achieve phenomenal growth.
Speaking at a board meeting in Lahore, P@SHA Chairman Naseer A Akhtar stressed that the government needs to build capacity of the institutions that are responsible for facilitating IT exports. Competent people need to be appointed in organisations like PSEB, National ICT R&D Fund, USF, PTA, TDAP and the Ministry of IT. The PSEB boards, National ICT R&D Fund and USF must have 50 percent to 70 percent representation from industry so that they are efficiently run and effective decisions are made and implemented.
Akhtar also emphasised that dedicated commercial counselors who understand the IT potential of Pakistan need to be appointed in the top dozen global IT export destinations like New York, San Francisco, Washington, Toronto, Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, London, Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, and growth markets in the Middle East and the Far East.
Neglect by successive governments over the past 10 years has forced the IT industry to rely only on organic growth. The federal government can add impetus by launching large and small-scale automation projects on a national scale, said the P@SHA chairman. These projects must be outsourced to local non-government companies or to joint ventures of local and foreign companies with a stipulation that the JV must also include small companies so that capacity building and transfer of technology takes place. Budget of Rs 20 billion needs to be allocated for these projects in 2014 increasing by 50 percent annually during the next four years.
The export and market development budget for the IT sector needs to be increased to Rs 3 billion in 2014 with a significant annual increase each year for the next four years.
The IT sector can play a vital role in creating high paid jobs for Pakistan’s young population. It can also contribute strongly to effective and transparent government and a strong growth in gross domestic product. However, steps need to be taken by government to ensure that IT is a ‘priority item’ on their agenda.