PAKISTAN'S IT INDUSTRY GROWING STEADILY

0.11 MN EMPLOYED IN IT SECTOR

KANWAL SALEEM
May 18 - 24, 2009

With over 1400 registered IT companies besides 60 foreign IT and telecommunication companies, Pakistan's IT industry has been growing steadily for the last three years. 0.11 million IT professional are employed with an addition of 20,000 new IT professional joining the work Force every year.

IT experts told PAGE that Pakistan's IT industry exports are estimated at US $1.4 billion while the industry size is estimated at US$2.8 billion. Pakistan's IT exports growth in each of the last few years has been more than 45 percent.

According to them, the Government of Pakistan has been proactively developing the IT sector in Pakistan since the last few years. A few of the incentives offered include tax exemption till 2016, establishment of IT Parks with low rent, foreign ownership of equity invested in IT, and 100% repatriation of profits allowed to IT companies. Pakistan offers various competitive advantages over other outsourcing destinations, such as high quality software development, swift and easy establishment of business, lowest cost basis and emerging and state-of-the-art telecommunication and IT infrastructure.

DEMAND OF LOCALLY ASSEMBLED COMPUTERS DIMINISH

A market survey reveals that the demand of locally assembled computers has diminished, as around 75 per cent of the buyers opt for the used imported computers which are available at a price of Rs8,000 against Rs13,000 of the locally assembled computer of similar specifications. Despite zero-rated facility on the import of branded new computers, the demand for used imported computers is significantly higher than the new ones, a computer vendor of Hall Road Nadeem Ashraf said.

The assemblers are of the view that imposition of general sales tax caused decline in demand of locally assembled computers. They claimed that smuggling of notebooks, RAMs, CPUs, and hard drives was started after the imposition of general sales tax and that now contributes to 30 per cent of the total industry size, thus causing a loss of millions of dollars to the national exchequer.

It may be mentioned that the government in view of the importance of the emerging IT industry in the country, had taken an appropriate and wise decision to place the IT hardware import at zero rate of customs duty in 1999. However, the zero rate facility was withdrawn and 15 percent general sales tax was imposed on the import of laptops, computers, servers and computer-related parts while some items including monitors and printers were put under the 5 per cent duty structure in the federal budget 2005. The custom tariff was zero percent on all computer hardware, PC, notebooks, severs and parts before June 2005 and the importers had to bear only six percent cost on account of withholding, provincial and other taxes on such items. Five per cent custom duty was imposed on monitors and printers while other peripherals and parts were left at zero duty structure.

As per statistics, the total PC market size of computer hardware was 900,000 PC's until December 2006. The size of imports increased and the PC market size grew to 1,050,000 PC until December 2007. The size of PC market at the end of December 2008 was 1,200,000 PCs. If we take into account the data of imports and the PC market size of 1,200,000, almost 60 percent of this number constitutes of second hand and used PCs. This leaves 600,000 new PCs more than 60 percent today constitute of international assembled PCs being imported in the country. This leaves us with only 240,000 locally assembled PCs in the country.

Further, consumer financing of branded computers also suffered a setback due to high interest rates of banks. Apart from this, procedure of banks for computer financing is cumbersome that is affecting the local industry uplift.

MOBILINK RANKED AMONGST TOP 100 MOBILE OPERATOR BRANDS

Mobilink, the country's market leader in cellular communication with more than 30 million customers, is the only Pakistani operator to have been ranked amongst the top 100 Mobile Operator Brands in the World by Informa Telecoms and Media.

According to the survey by Mobile Communications International, which evaluated the top 100 cellular brands in the world on various criterion of quality, service and perceptions, Mobilink has been ranked third among the "Brands Punching Above Their Weight" category ahead of Airtel, Tata Indicom and Reliance which stand 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively. Overall, Mobilink is ranked 68th Top Global Mobile Operator Brand among the leading cellular companies across the globe. A spokesman of Mobilink said, "We are truly honored to have been recognized by the international fraternity. This accolade is a reflection of Mobilink's consistency in driving brand recall and motivation to continue delivering the very best to our consumers and stakeholders."

PTCL FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTERS

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is focusing on setting up spacious and modern Customers Care Centers at the big telephone exchange premises. PTCL has already set up these centres in different parts of the country for giving state-of-the-art telecom services to the customers.

These centres facilitate the customers in registration for new telephone connection, broadband, digital subscriber lines (DSL), Smart TV, submission of applications for closing of telephone on temporary or permanent basis, request for restoration of their phones after showing the paid bill copy, guidance for installments of phone bills of PTCL arrears, adjustment of paid bill amount, noting down of complaints about faulty phones, selling of V-fones (WLL), making assurance for facilities of CLI, change of name of address or ownership code bearing, call transfer, call waiting, Voice Message (VMS), and other value added services.

ZONG EXTENDS SUPPORT TO LUMS MUSIC SOCIETY

ZONG has extended its support to the Music Society of LUMS in celebrating its 10th anniversary. The festivities included a Music Conference followed by a grand concert. The celebrations also included a documentary on The Music Society and its progression over the years.

Zong has supported music in the past as well by rendering support to concerts and events like Campus Rock and also introducing new and exciting music related products for its users.