As part of the drive towards encouraging a digital economy, boosting the IT sector and supporting young entrepreneurs, PM Imran Khan introduced a new policy of zero tax rates for freelancers in the information technology sector. This will incorporate them into the formal economy, which will ensure that freelance work attracts more opportunities and contributes to the national revenue stream as well. However, it is vital that we go beyond such surface-level policies as well. The IT industry is booming and we must play our cards right to experience the growth.

The freelance industry, particularly within the IT sector, has thrived in recent years. Young up-and-comer entrepreneurs and professionals have transformed their skills into lucrative ventures by taking clients and projects without conforming to the limitations of a contractual job. Freelancers have provided various companies access to the kind of technology and digital skills that would have not been available in Pakistan at a formal level. In light of the role that they are playing in enhancing corporate output and the overall productivity of national business, it is vital to provide incentives that facilitate the industry, beyond just registration.

In previous years, youth support programmes like the laptop scheme provided the future business men and women of the country with the tools they needed to develop and hone their skills. It also enabled for people from all walks of life to attain the same kind of opportunities that are extended to others who can afford to develop such skills. With the country’s e-commerce market reaching almost $4 billion in value, and the global market $30 trillion, there is immense benefit in investing in the sector for the long term.

Implementing a zero-tax policy and increasing minimum wage rates of freelancers from Rs5000 to Rs25,000 are basic level changes. More must be done if what we desire is an economy that is comparable to international standards. Development must be looked at from multiple angles rather than just one, and the only way that most freelance workers will consider working under the formal agency of the economy is when they can see that their interests will be protected and they will be provided the necessary platforms needed to thrive.