PITB’s 5th Roundtable Conference was held on Monday, 8th of January, 2018 at Arfa Software Technology Park which was chaired by Dr. Umar Saif Chairman PITB in collaboration with Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA). Round Table Conference, a semi-annual event is conducted by TechHub Connect – a project that falls under the umbrella of Mr. Nabeel A. Qadeer (Director Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, PITB) and is headed by Senior Program Manager Mehak Jamal. These Round Table Conferences are being organized for the past 2 years to provide a platform to the leaders from all three sectors namely Government, Industry and Academia for a discourse on the issues pertinent to the IT industry of the country. This exercise is helpful in defining the roadmap for the progress of the IT industry along with that of Punjab and Pakistan.
The conference yielded 120+ CEOs of leading IT companies and Vice Chancellors from the academia. This time the focus was on devising a sustainable framework for dedicated IT Special Economic Zones in Pakistan. It was announced that 50 acres of land will be allocated in Lahore for this purpose. Under this model, land and other utilities shall be provided at subsidized rates. In addition to this, there will be a one-time exemption from custom duties and taxes on import of plant and machinery, along with exemption from all taxes on income for the next 10 years. PITB shall be working with Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) to amend the minimum land requirement in SEZ rules.
Another agenda item was a discussion on the issues pertinent to the cybersecurity. PITB after taking consent from the stakeholders launched a Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) which would act as an advisory body and provide suggestions on how to deal with cyber threats. It was also agreed that PITB will build a one window facilitation cell (Helpline: 042-99030086) with the help of Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA), where IT industry can report their taxation issues. Addressing the concerns of the telecom sector, Dr. Umar Saif announced the provision of ducting facility alongside roads in order to provide a right of way for the relevant companies.
Top tier executives from various sectors (Government, Industry and Academia) were in attendance namely Naseer A. Akhtar (CEO Infotech), Naeem Zamindar (Chairman Board of Investment), Salman Akhtar (CEO Techlogix), Imran Ali Khan (Co-founder and Co-CEO Zameen.com), Rabeel Warraich (CEO Sarmayacar), Zafar Khan (CEO Sofizar), Barkan Saeed (Chairman P@SHA), Shehryar Hydri (Secretary General P@SHA), Ali Syed (Senior Vice Chairman P@SHA), Syed Ahmed (CEO DPL), Raheal Siddiqui (Chairperson PRA), Haroon Askari (Managing Director PSX), Sohail Qadri (Director of PBIT), Amjad Saqib (Founder Akhuwat Foundation) and Zaeem Yaqoob (Executive Director Student Affairs and External Relations, BNU). Dr. Amjad Hussain (Director National University of Computers and Emerging Sciences (FAST-NUCES), Nighat Dad (Executive Director Digital Rights Foundation) among many others.
The TechHub Connect team has worked relentlessly to organize and ensure a fruitful event that aims to bring together the entire IT fraternity under one roof. Dr. Umar Saif highlighting the importance of IT SEZ said: “SEZ’s are the backbone of the economy and soon through the hard work of the IT industry, Pakistan will be at the forefront of innovation.”
Appreciating PITB’s efforts the chairman of P@SHA, Barkan Saeed said,
“P@SHA has been working closely with PITB for the establishment of an IT SEZ in Punjab and we would like to thank Dr. Umar Saif for his efforts through which the materialization of an IT SEZ has been made possible.”
Naeem Zamindar, Chairman Board of Investment appreciating the efforts put in to further grow the IT industry added:
“BOI is open towards the suggestions from the IT industry and is willing to facilitate in every possible manner. We are currently working with PITB and P@sha for the establishment of an IT SEZ in Lahore for which Dr. Umar Saif has so graciously allocated land.”