Pakistan In Need of a Digital Revolution

Statement of the Minister at SDPI:

Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Asad Umar said that promotion of digital economy is extremely important for Pakistan to make the government accountable, increase productivity and more importantly for documentation of the economy and thereby increasing revenue collection.

Documentation of the economy on digital basis:

Speaking at the sustainable development in a digital society being organized by SDPI said the revenue generation and documentation of the economy a massive challenge for the country and there is need to use technology to achieve the end instead of muscles and might of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials.

Pakistan in need of a digital revolution

Umar stated that ultimate solution is digitalization of the economy much more that the effort of gallant officials of the FBR who are trying very hard.

He regretted that business in Pakistan is controlled and influence by large business houses who had access to policy formulation, capital in the shape of banking industry and capital market. This has been the reason that he said he has always maintained that in Pakistan economy those who have best ideas, willing to work hard and willing to take entrepreneur risk are not necessary the winner  but  it is those who have got most influence and have the ability to influence policy and decision.

He further said that digital platform allows to break the barrier and people sitting in remote areas can access and avail opportunities worldwide. Umar said that the conference topic is very close to his heart because of diverse aspects and having greater potential for democratization of business in Pakistan.

Government based on digitalization would be much more transparent:

He said that government is looking at the efficient delivery of services and technology obviously has very remarkable role to play. He said that accountability and transparency and making the government accountable would helpful if measures taken by the government are digitalized and put it on the open platform. The youth of the country would be able hold the government accountable more meaningful way and more powerfully, he added.

He said that there are so many aspects that promotion of digital economy is extremely important for Pakistan but this would only be success if 120 million Pakistanis are able to get benefit. He said that the Pakistan has taken some good decision in this regard and one is that a part of universal service fund must be utilized to promote information technology in the remote and rural areas. Digital platform allows to break this barrier and those who start business in rural area can form multibillion company, Umar added.

Collaborative Measures are required to promote digitalization:

“If people don’t have basic literacy it is unlikely for them to make full use of the technology”, he said there is need of having coordinated efforts between federal and provincial governments as well as ministries and collaboration among different ministries and academia as well.

He further said for bridging the digital divide, we’ve to go beyond those dealing with technology. We need to have a coordinated approach, not just between the federal & provincial ministries, but private sector, industries & academia should also collaborate.

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The minister stressed that the digital economy need not to be designed for some but it should also be a success for all the 200 million plus citizens of Pakistan.

Expert Opinion about digitalization:

Former Finance Minister Punjab Aisha Ghaus Pasha said digital technology is the way to go forward to better governance. As compared to other countries in South Asia and in other regions there is a long way to go for Pakistan for being a digital society, she added. She said that access to internet in Pakistan is 16 percent compared to 81 percent in Malaysia. She said that biometric system in Punjab improved attendance system. Further digital monitoring of vaccination administration helped a lot. Digitization can help in improving efficiency and resource mobilization, she added.

Former Chairman Board of Investment Haroon Sharif said Pakistan should promote cooperation with China in the realm of technology. We need to look at strategic partnerships to learn from other countries, said Sharif, adding that Pakistan manage to get good ranking in ease of doing business in Pakistan because of use of digital technology.

He further recommended for adopting some kind of technology adaptation measures. Pakistan needs technology partnership with China, he added.

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