ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has drafted the “National Freelancing Facilitation Policy 2021” which aims to increase the number of active freelancers in the country to one million and raise the average earning rate to $5,000 per year, potentially adding $5 billion in export remittance inflows by establishing Pakistan as a leading enabler and top mark.
According to the draught policy, each US freelancer earns an average of $21,000 per year, while the equivalent figure for Pakistan is around $3,500 per year per active freelancer.
This policy aims to set a framework for achieving this goal and to speed up the process by making it easier for freelancers to create wealth for themselves, their families, villages, and towns, as well as earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.
Fiscal incentives for freelancers are recommended in the proposed policy after consultation with a working group of prominent freelancers and freelancing community representatives.
Following appropriate procedures, the MoITT will recommend these ideas for inclusion in relevant documents such as the Finance Bill and State Bank of Pakistan and SECP rules.
The proposed incentives include a tax holiday on freelancers’ export income/revenue/receipts, subject to receipt of income/revenue through formal banking channels in the specific purpose codes assigned by the State Bank of Pakistan, until 2030.
The PSEB is proposing to introduce an incentive-based registration fee package for freelancers, as well as access to PSEB programmes and initiatives, such as free and subsidised training, certifications, and subsidised office space at Software Technology Parks (STPs) across the country, as well as access to international marketing and matchmaking opportunities.
It is proposed that the SECP offer PSEB registered freelancers a 20% registration fee discount if they choose to register a single-member company. It is proposed to make collateral-free loans up to Rs1.0 million available to PSEB registered freelancers at subsidised rates through commercial banks and financial institutions.
If PSEB registered freelancers prefer to register a single-member corporation, it is proposed that the SECP grant them a 20% registration fee discount. It is proposed that commercial banks and financial institutions offer collateral-free loans up to Rs1.0 million available to PSEB registered freelancers at subsidised rates.
The draught policy advocated that Pakistan become a world leader in the freelancing market by establishing a transparent governance model, framework, and policies, as well as offering international access to markets, projects, and clients, in order to bridge the gap between the two countries.
The draught policy proposed to establish Pakistan as a global leader in the freelance market by establishing a transparent governance model, framework, and policies, as well as providing international access to markets, projects, and clients. It also proposed to bridge the gap and make it easier for freelancers to interact with governing/regulatory authorities to facilitate business, and to implement a robust marketing strategy and promotion.
Digital banking, e-payments, access to financial instruments, and finance, particularly low-interest loans for freelancers, were also advocated.
According to the proposal, IT and ITeS export remittances increased to $1.23 billion in 2019-20, with freelancers earning $150 million.
Whereas, in the first seven months of the current fiscal year 2020-21, freelancers’ export remittances jumped to $219 million and are likely to exceed $350 million by the end of the year.
It is critical to develop and implement a National Freelancing Policy in order to expand Pakistan’s freelancing footprint abroad and get a larger portion of the global outsourcing market.
This would allow freelancers to work within a supporting framework that is linked with increasing demand for IT and IT-enabled services in international marketplaces throughout the world.
The number of freelancers in Pakistan can be tenfold increased in a few years with the correct governmental interventions, providing self-employment for talented youth, supporting IT and ITeS export remittances, and boosting the country’s economic growth.
Source: Business Recorder