Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunications Syed Aminul Haq has informed that a piece of land at a cost of Rs31 billion has been acquired from Civil Aviation Authority near Karachi Airport for setting up an IT Park in Karachi where plots will be available at much lower rates so that maximum number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) associated with IT services could be encouraged to establish their businesses at the IT Park which will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and all IT related facilities.
Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), the IT Minister said that ground breaking ceremony for IT Park will be staged within the current month and the leadership of Businessmen Group and Karachi Chamber will be specially invited to grace the ceremony with their presence.
Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar, Jawed Bilwani, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz, Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan and KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.
Amin ul Haq, who was accompanied by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Faisal Ali Subzwari and Member National Assembly Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, further informed that although he intended to launch 5G technology in the month of December 2022 but it has been extended for three months to March 2023 which will initially be launched in major cities of Pakistan.
He said that rigorous efforts were being made to improve IT exports and an ambitious target of US$15 billion has been set for IT exports in the next five years. “We want to bring the IT exports at par with textile exports and would strive really hard to leave behind the textile exports and make IT exports the leading exports of Pakistan”, he added.
“When I assumed charge of the Ministry, the IT exports were less than $1 billion which improved to US$1.4 billion in 2019-20 and reached US$2.1 billion 2020-21. We expect IT exports to rise further and reach US$3 billion this year”, he said.
He further stated that the Ministry has invested a sum of Rs60 billion to improve connectivity across the country. “Our plan of action is not confined to Karachi only but we have initiated IT and telecommunication projects in Jamshoro, Dadu, Larkana, Badin and other areas of the country as well.”
“Keeping in view the grievances being faced by the business community, I demanded from the Prime Minister to twist the ears of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and he has agreed to do so”, the Minister said while appreciating the support being extended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Federal Minster for Maritime Affairs Faisal Ali Subzwari assured full support and cooperation in resolving issues being suffered by the business community Karachi. “My Mobile number is available with representatives of business community hence, instead of contacting anyone else from my office, you should directly get in touch with me as I am just a call away”, he said, “As 95 percent of my Ministry’s work happens in Karachi, I spend five days a week here and just a day in Islamabad”.
Faisal Subzwari seconded President’s KCCI Proposal of having a regulatory framework for shipping lines but the proposed regulatory body for this purpose should comprise of all stakeholders including members of the business community and representatives of shipping lines. “We will also look into the possibility of incorporating KCCI’s representative on PQA Board wherein a representative of Bin Qasim Association of Trade and Industry is already present”, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Maqbool urged the business community to raise a strong voice for the rights of MQM-P and Karachi city. He said the next general elections will be held upon completion of fresh census. MQM has made written agreements with the PML-N and PPP in the larger interest of Karachi and Pakistan, he added.
Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, in his remarks, stressed that the government has to come up with an effective policy that leads to generating employment opportunities, enhances exports and promotes import substitution, besides creating an enabling business environment for the industries who were the only source for providing jobs and capable to pull the people out from poverty.
Expressing deep concerns over high cost of doing business, he suggested that a committee at the National Assembly level should be formed and tasked to evaluate and study the cost of doing business in Pakistan and compare it with cost of doing business in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka. “If our cost of doing business is the same then we, the exporters, are responsible for lesser exports but if it is not, then the government must bring down the cost of doing business at par with our competitors which is the only way forward”, he said, adding that the country will not prosper if even playing field was not provided to the business and industrial community.
“We only need those basic facilities which are available to citizens in other countries around the world. It is the responsibility of the government to make arrangements and provide facilities to industries so that they could become socially complaint as per requirement of the international community”, Chairman BMG stressed.
He was of the view that poor policies and bad governance have created a disturbing situation in which the rich were becoming richer while the poor were getting poorer. The government has to focus on promoting industrialization as well as the exports and must also resolve pending issues being faced by industries on top priority as it was these industries which can create employment opportunities and ensure progress and prosperity for the country.
Zubair Motiwala also advised the IT Minister to come up with some kind of program wherein those individuals working from home could be provided solar panels along with laptops and a business plan so that they could come out of the frustration of being jobless and become self-reliant. Moreover, the existing libraries in universities must also be transformed into virtual universities and the space available be converted into IT sections where our youth must be imparted latest IT-related trainings which would help in achieving the IT export targets set for next five years.
President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, in his welcome address, stressed the need for having strong liaison and coordination between the Karachi Chamber, Federal and Sindh Government so that the some of the serious issues of Karachi which have been pending since long could be resolved. “We all must make collective efforts and should be on one page in dealing with numerous issues being faced by the business community of Karachi”, he added.
Taking advantage of Maritime Minister’s presence, President KCCI particularly mentioned that shipping lines were creating a lot of problems and overcharging the traders hence, an autonomous regulatory body has to be formed at the earliest to put an end to the looting and highhandedness of all shipping lines. “As KCCI representative is given a slot as trustee on KPT Board, similar representation must also be given on Port Qasim Authority’s Board so that the issues being faced by business community in dealing with PQA authorities could also be amicably resolved”, he added.
Keeping in view the potential of Blue Economy, the Karachi Chamber, Pakistan Navy and Ministry of Maritime Affairs can join hands and work collectively to promote the massive opportunities available in the Blue Economy.
He also requested the Maritime Minister to hand over the Textile City situated near Port Qasim to Karachi Chamber so that it’s infrastructure could be developed by KCCI as per international standards and the industrial plots could be leased to genuine industrialists.
He further urged the IT Ministry to take KCCI onboard in all the IT development projects while the desperately needed IT Park should be established at the earliest. “The ambitious target of US$15 billion for IT exports was doable but the government has to provide the required facilities so that this target could be achieved without any hitches”, he added.
Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Muhammad Idrees presenting crests to Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haq and Member National Assembly Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui during their visit to KCCI. Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain and Former President Majyd Aziz are also seen in the picture.