DESPITE the dismal state of education in the country, Pakistan ranks fourth in the global freelance market where hundreds of thousands of individuals generate money in the dollar economy. It is the individual enterprise that outweighs the official delay. Everything that happens is in spite of the system, not because of it. From the quality of education to the lack of facilitation for the freelance community, the government of Pakistan cannot take credit for the massive progress made by Pakistanis in the global marketplace.
The least the Pakistani government – no matter who runs it at any given time – can do is provide a hassle-free environment for freelancers to expand the scope of their business and expand their footprint on the digital economy. They are based in Pakistan and every dollar they earn gets them land in Pakistan. Even when the country is in desperate need of foreign currency, the government is reluctant to provide freelancers with any form of assistance or facilitation. Certainly the independent community needs the government’s attention the most. The more dollars they would earn, the more the rupee would be stabilized.
The very cause of the devaluation of the rupee is the decrease in income in dollars. I am sure that once a free and fair mode of work is provided for freelancers, the rupiah will gain strength. This is not a mere speech, but a well-studied conclusion by economists around the world. Honestly, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand this simple phenomenon.
The main cause of concern for freelancers is the problems they face when receiving dollar payments due to the lack of digital platforms for remittances like PayPal, which does not operate in Pakistan. No government in Pakistan even tried to see what could be done in this regard.
Another headache is the income tax rate for freelancers. It’s the digital freelance community that has brought in the dollars, which is helping the country in a critical area, but they’re being discouraged by the government. The previous government was the real culprit because it imposed unjustified taxes on self-employed income from abroad.
The government should facilitate the freelance community not only for the good of the freelancers but also for the good of the national economy which badly needs hard currency to keep afloat.
Finally, the country must increase and improve online training platforms, such as, for example, DigiSkills, to continue developing the freelance community.
We have an advantage in the global space, and we should do everything possible not to lose it.
Insaf Ali Bangwar
Posted in Dawn, August 28, 2022