Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, the provincial minister for finance and
chairman, Information Technology Development Board (Sindh), has pointed out the
three areas i.e. education, exports and the private sector which, he feels, have
the capacity to bring in social and economic uplift of this country.
He was speaking as the chief guest at the launch of a
"Web Directory" compiled by the "Magnum Solutions", one of
the emerging leaders in ýFinancial and "Management" consultants.
Unlike the other government spokesmen who generally paint a
rosy picture of the state of affairs, Dr. Hafeez has become a popular name among
various segments of the society as an outspoken person who hit the gray areas of
the economy without any reservation. He said that among the contemporary
economies of the region, Pakistan lags much behind as many as 40 times as the
three areas he identified were criminally ignored in Pakistan.
He said unless we accomplish the task of human resource
development through spread of education to the grass root level, more reliance
on the private sector to have an export surplus to enhance productivity of the
manufacturing sector and to find ways to sell our products abroad by
strengthening the export sector, the target of economic growth would be hard to
achieve, he remarked.
Referring to the IT revolution which has taken the world to
its grip, he described it as the historic opportunity for the developing
countries like Pakistan to get out of the persistent economic depression.
He however was realistic in his approach by saying that every
one cannot grasp the historic opportunities. We may too miss the opportunity if
we fail to play our cards well within the given circumstances. Citing the
example of neighbouring India, he said that IT sector in that country is
approaching to the target of $5 billion software export while we in Pakistan are
still behind the meager amount of $50 million. He said that Pakistan has the
resources, the federal government has come out with excellent policies, we have
a rich crop of talented youth, and the only thing is to guide them through
implementation of good decisions and the policies in the right direction.
He expressed his concerns especially for the people of Sindh
in general and Karachi in particular who despite having all the required
resources are lagging behind the people of the other parts of the country.
In order to catch up, an international IT exhibition and
conference was organized in Karachi. The overwhelming response given by the
people of this metropolitan city has kindled the hopes that though we are late
but still have the capacity to catch up the train, he said with confidence.
S.M. Yahya, the Editor of the directory and a senior
executive of Magnum Solution while introducing the project, said that in
Pakistan during past few years, despite the slump and retarded economic growth,
the IT sector has registered phenomenal growth, by some estimates as much as 60
per cent per annum and the upward trend is still in vogue. The government has
also placed significant emphasis on the development of Science and Technology
sectors and is offering unprecedented incentives to all kinds of initiatives in
the IT sector. An extended tax holiday of 15 years has been made available to
attract investment in the IT sector. In line with government policies, the SBP
has urged the banks and financial institutions to patronize entrepreneurs in the
IT sector and provide financial support especially to small and medium
Yahya further said that while a lot of attention is focused
on the development of IT sector and related infrastructure, some of the vital
linkages are still missing in the communication chain. For instance now it has
been more than 6 years that telephone subscribers of PTCL were provided a
directory. Presently, subscribers of both PTCL and mobile phone companies are
operating without having the benefits of a telephone directory. Similarly,
despite that the number of Internet connections and Service providers (ISP's)
has increased exponentially, a comprehensive e-mail and web directory was not
available prior to launching of Magnum Solutions' directory. The
non-availability of a web directory was resulting in huge financial loss of
millions of rupees in Internet connection cost enormous loss of time and futile
physical and mental efforts. A huge reservoir of information exists on the World
Wide Web, however, the non-availability of an Internet Directory has seriously
impaired effective, economical and productive utilization of an estimated 25
million PCs and main frame computers in Pakistan.
In order to provide access guidance to more than a million
Internet connection holders in Pakistan, Magnum Solutions has taken the
initiative to bridge the gap. This directory comprises of more than 5000 entries
providing links, e-mail and web addresses and brief descriptions of the most
useful web sites in Pakistan and abroad, Yahya said. Javaid Sadiq, MD, IDBP and
Aftab Ahmed Khan, former Chairman NDFC also addressed the audience.