STZA hopes for incentives from new government

Article by Bilal Hussain courtesy of International the News.


KARACHI: Chairman Special Economic Zones (STZA) Amer Hashmi said technology has the potential to pull up the GDP of Pakistan and the new government should facilitate STZA to bring investment, technology and create employment for those skilled in technology.

“Pakistan has always faced ‘brain drain’,” STZA Chairman told The News. “If we provide them with similar opportunities, which they get in, for instance, Dubai, why would they leave their families then?”

Hashmi said that they have asked 150 global investors to invest and start their operations in Pakistan.

“Many have shown interest. But it depends on the stability and law and order situation in the country,” he said.

Hashmi said that recently a Google delegation headed by Tim Paolini, the Google APAC lead for Cloud, recently visited the office of the STZA in Islamabad along with leaders of Tech Valley Pakistan.

The visiting delegates were briefed about Special Technology Zones being developed by STZA across Pakistan and the special fiscal and monetary incentives, including but not limited to 10-year tax and duty holiday, and support being offered to domestic and foreign tech companies in the Special Tech Zones.

“If companies such as Google enter Pakistan with a range of products, then startups would take further boost in the country. Moreover, jobs would also be created,” Hashmi added.

He said that STZA has shown interest to help Google expand its existing footprint in Pakistan by jointly working on strategic technology interventions for tech zones.

Some of the suggested interventions include the establishment of state of the art data centres across Pakistan, enhanced global cloud services to harness local demand and boost economic value of various industrial sectors, adding more fintech power to the financial ecosystem by introducing Google Pay and other advanced cashless payment systems to boost ecommerce, supporting Pakistan’s burgeoning freelancer market and bringing Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to Pakistan to begin manufacturing Google chrome books and other products in the STZ, he said.

Furthermore, Google could explore STZs in Pakistan for building dedicated Software Engineering Centres, Shared Services Centres and Research, Development, and Innovation Centers to utilise Pakistan’s talent at a much lower cost as compared to contemporary engineering destinations.

“This talent to be sourced from top Pakistani universities and national training centres in the areas of AI, cloud computing, cyber security, robotics, and allied fields.

The cooperation in the fields of venture capital funding for Pakistani startups and tech SMEs, and Google translation services to promote Urdu as a major functional language for all Google products and services were also discussed,” he said.

Hashmi further said that Chinese firms have also shown interest in starting semiconductor chips in Pakistan.

“They see talent in Pakistan. We have tech savvy youth, which unfortunately go to other countries because they couldn’t find opportunities here,” he lamented.

Hashmi said that he would be meeting with the prime minister, who is also the STZA president, where he would be present a budget proposals, mainly to get tax incentives for manufacturing of chips or semiconductors in the country. “We would be revealing many positive developments after the budget,” he said.

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