Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Pakistan's computer services exports soared 26% in March, 2020 over the same month last year. This growth occurred in spite of the coronavirus lockdown that began on March 23, 2020. The nation's total services exports fell 17% in the same month.

The ICT services exports bucked the overall down trend in Pakistan's exports. The country exported computer service worth $102.26 million in March, 2020, up 25.77% from $81.31 million in March, 2019.  Overall telecommunications, computer and information services increased 19.44% to $134.95 million in March 2020, up from $112.99 million in March 2019.  Prior to the current coronavirus lockdown, PBS reported that Pakistan's technology exports increased 26.24% in the first 8 months  (July-February) of the current financial year.

Pakistan ICT Exports. Source: PBS

The data released by the PBS showed that Pakistan earned a total amount of $887.47 million during the first eight months (July-February) of the fiscal year 2020, up from $702.99 million during the corresponding period of the fiscal year 2018-19. Computer services exports grew 31.57% to $677.23 million from July 2019 to February 2020 as compared to $514.74 million.

 It is generally believed that Pakistan's PBS and central bank underestimate the country's technology exports. Some have argued that the actual IT exports were closer to $5 billion in fiscal 2018. Some of the differences can be attributed to the fact that the State Bank IT exports data does not include various non-IT sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and health care.

Pakistan has a thriving  community of freelancers. Its digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.

Gig Economy Growth in Q2/2019. Source: Payoneer
United States leads gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India  (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).

The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan  was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access.  Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.

Growth in Freelance Work. Source: Payoneer

Mohsin Muzaffar, head of business development at Payoneer in Pakistan, has said as follows: "Government investment in enhancing digital skills has helped create a skilled freelancer workforce while blanket 4G coverage across Pakistan has given freelancers unprecedented access to
international jobs".

Global Freelance Revenue By Age. Source: Payoneer. 


In Q2/2019, Asia cemented its status as a freelancer hub.  Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Philippines made it to the  top 10 list, collectively recording 238% increase from Q2/2018.


Online Labor Index. Source: Oxford Internet Institute

As of 2017, Pakistan freelancers ranked fourth in the world and accounted for 8.5% of the global online workforce, according to Online Labor Index compiled by Oxford Internet Institute. India led with 24% share followed by Bangladesh 16%, US 12%, Pakistan 8.5% and Philippines 6.5%.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Digital BRI and 5G in Pakistan

Pakistan Tech Exports Exceed Billion Dollars

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan EdTech and FinTech Startups

State Bank Targets Fully Digital Economy in Pakistan

Campaign of Fear Against CPEC

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

FMCG Boom in Pakistan

Belt Road Forum 2019

Fiber Network Growth in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


13 comments:

Neal said...

India's service exports are $205 billion vs Pakistan's & Bangladesh's just over $5 billion each


Neal said...

India's service exports are $205 billion vs Pakistan's & Bangladesh's just over $5 billion each


https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/BX.GSR.NFSV.CD?locations=IN-PK-BD

Riaz Haq said...

Neal: "India's service exports are $205 billion vs Pakistan's & Bangladesh's just over $5 billion each"

Bulk of India's service exports are salaries of Indian H1B employees in US.

These could disappear if Trump banned H1B visas for Indians.

https://www.riazhaq.com/2016/04/india-files-h1b-visa-complaint-against.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Covid #Lockdown: #Pakistan’s #FDI soars 32% in April 2020 to $133.2 million, up from $100.8 million last year. #Oilandgas exploration sector led with $39.1m followed by #financialservices $30.8m, #telecom $20 million, #power $18.4 & #chemicals $14.9m. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2224412/1-despite-pandemic-pakistans-fdi-soars-32-april/

Multinational companies have continued to inject fresh investment into ongoing projects in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy like telecommunication, power, and chemical despite the global economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) rose 32% to $133.2 million in April 2020 compared to $100.8 million in the same month of the previous year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported on Monday.

Although the volume of investment stood at an eight-month low in April, “what is encouraging is that investors have continued to pour fresh capital into ongoing projects in Pakistan despite the global economic recession under Covid-19,” Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) Secretary-General M Abdul Aleem remarked while talking to The Express Tribune.
Moreover, the nature of investment stands diversified. Companies from multiple countries have poured new investment, unlike Chinese firms which have been the only major investors in Pakistan in recent times.

FDI should improve in the months to come as countries are slowly lifting lockdowns in a bid to revive economic activities around the globe. Accelerating the activities, however, may remain a challenge in the absence of a coronavirus vaccine and medicines.

Cumulatively, in the first 10 months (July-April) of the current fiscal year, foreign firms injected FDI worth $2.28 billion, which was more than double the investment of around $1 billion in the same period of the previous year, according to the central bank.

Before the outbreak of Covid-19 late in February in Pakistan, foreign investors seemed poised to initiate new projects in the country. They, however, have put the projects on hold in response to the virus.

“In the recent past, some foreign companies made a new investment in food, energy, and telecom sectors in Pakistan,” Aleem said.

Country-wise FDI

Hong Kong emerged as the largest investor with net FDI of $28.4 million in April 2020, followed by the Netherlands that injected $24.5 million, the US $22.5 million, Malta $18.5 million, and the UK $10.5 million.

Cumulatively, in the first 10 months of FY20, China was the biggest investor, with FDI worth $877.8 million compared to $45.5 million in the same period of last year.

Norway stood second with $288.6 million, followed by Malta that injected $185.2 million in July-April FY20.

However, in the same period of the previous year, the UAE was the largest investor with a net investment of $159.7 million, followed by Hong Kong at $147 million, while Japan invested $95.8 million.

Sector-wise FDI

The oil and gas exploration sector attracted the largest foreign investment of $39.1 million in April 2020, followed by the financial sector that got an investment of $30.8 million, the communication sector $20 million, power sector $18.4 million, and chemical sector $14.9 million.
Cumulatively, in 10 months, power, communication, and oil and gas exploration sectors were the top three sectors that attracted significant investment.

Investment in stock market

Although foreign investors continued to remain net sellers at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in the first 10 months of FY20, they slowed down selling compared to the same period of last year.

They offloaded stocks worth $182.7 million in July-April FY20 compared to $408.1 million in the same period of last year, according to the central bank.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #domestic #savings rate up 1.1% of #GDP to 13.9% in outgoing fiscal year 2019-20. #Investment-to-GDP ratio dips to 15.4% and #economy contracts by 0.38% amid #coronavirus #lockdown, the first GDP contraction in 68 years. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2225282/2-pakistans-investment-ratio-dips-15-4/


The savings-to-GDP ratio target of 12.8% was surpassed as the ratio stood at 13.9%. The ratio was better than the previous fiscal year due to the low current account deficit projected for the current fiscal year. The gap between total investments and savings is financed through foreign savings.

The results are based on estimates of the NAC that has approved a provisional economic growth rate of negative 0.38% for the fiscal year 2019-20, ending on June 30.

-----

Public investment showed slight improvement but it was because of using budgetary figures of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) instead of actually spending that was expected to remain significantly lower than the budgeted sum.

Private investment went down further in the second year of the PTI government, suggesting that private investors were not showing their trust in the government.

Failure to achieve these crucial targets has limited the government’s ability to spend on deteriorating infrastructure and social sectors from its own resources.

This has increased the government’s reliance on external and domestic sources to meet its requirements, resulting in a mushroom growth in public debt in the past five years. The public debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to spike to 90% in the current fiscal year, according to the IMF.

The total size of the national economy is now estimated at $265 billion for this fiscal year, down from $279 billion a year ago. The size of the national economy in US dollar terms has shrunk 5%.

The investment-to-GDP ratio stood at 15.4% against the target of 15.8%, said sources. The ratio was worse than last year’s revised rate of 15.6%, they added.

The government’s inability to increase investment as a percentage of the total size of the national economy remains its biggest failure on the economic front, suggesting that the PTI government has not yet begun its journey towards addressing structural imbalances.

The private investment that had been recorded at 10.3% of GDP last year has also slipped to 10%, according to the official working. The government had set the target to increase private investment to 10.1%.

Public investment stood at 3.8% of GDP, up from 3.7%, due to using budgetary figures of development spending instead of actual expenses. Once actual numbers will be used, the public investment-to-GDP ratio is expected to fall to 3.3%.

Fixed investment remained at 13.8% of GDP in the fiscal year 2019-20 against the target of 14.2%. It was slightly down compared with last year’s level.

These figures of investment and savings would be officially published in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2019-20, likely to be unveiled on June 11 by Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

Pakistan has one of the lowest investment and saving rates in the region and the world, obstructing progress towards a path of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Provisional estimates suggest the per capita income shrank 6.2% to $1,366 in this fiscal year. It was lower by $89 when compared with the downward-revised per capita income of $1,455 for the last fiscal year.

The per capita income is worked out by dividing the total national income with the number of people. At the end of the PML-N tenure, the per capita income had been recorded at $1,652 and there was a reduction of 17.3% in two years due to currency devaluation.

In rupee terms, the per capita income stood at over Rs214,000. In dollar terms, the per capita income was the lowest in seven years.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's economy contracts for first time in 68 years


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2224516/2-pakistans-economy-contracts-first-time-68-years/

For the first time in 68 years, Pakistan’s economy has marginally contracted by 0.38% in the outgoing fiscal year due to adverse impacts of novel coronavirus coupled with economic stabilisation policies that had hit the industrial sector much before the deadly pandemic.


Except for the agriculture sector that grew 2.7%, the industrial and services sectors witnessed negative growth rates, pulling the overall growth rate down to negative 0.38% in the fiscal year 2019-20, ending on June 30. The per capita income in dollar terms has also dipped to 1,366 – a contraction of 6.1%, but it increased in rupee terms to Rs214,539.

The National Accounts Committee approved the provisional gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the outgoing fiscal year besides a downward revision of the economic growth rate for the first year of the PTI government. For fiscal 2018-19, the NAC cut the provisional growth rate of 3.3% to 1.9%, which is the lowest in 11 years.




The SBP’s quest for hot foreign money has adversely hit the industries even much before the Covid-19 started impacting the economy. In the end, neither the hot foreign money stayed in Pakistan nor the country achieved sustainable economic growth. There is a need to investigate the sources of hot foreign money inflows in Pakistan that created an artificial sense of economic stability.

Former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha had disputed the PTI government’s claim of a 3.3% growth rate and instead claimed a year ago that the growth in the first year of the PTI government was 1.9%. His assessment has become true and finally admitted by the government.

The Planning secretary chaired the National Accounts Committee meeting, which has representation of all the federal and provincial departments concerned, including the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

It is for the first time since 1951-52 that Pakistan’s economy contracted, although the pace of contraction was far lower than -1.5% growth rate predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the finance ministry and the SBP.

The GDP — the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a year — is projected to have a negative growth rate of 0.38% during the fiscal year 2019-20 ending on June 30, according to the NAC. These estimates are based on six to nine months provisional data projected for the whole year and adjusted for the impact of Covid-19 followed by the lockdown, it added.

The economic contraction coupled with currency devaluation has caused the size of the economy — in the US dollar terms — to slip to around $265.6 billion from $280 billion a year ago. At the end of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s term, the size of the GDP in dollar terms was $313 billion.

The GDP at the current market prices stands at Rs41.7 trillion for 2019-20. This shows a growth of 9.9% over Rs.37.9 trillion for 2018-19 due to double-digit inflation. The per capita income for 2019-20 has been calculated as Rs214,539 for 2019-20, showing a growth of 8.3% over Rs198,028 during 2018-19. However, in dollar terms, the per capita income has shrunk by 6.1% to $1,366.

The NAC also confirmed the 5.53% economic growth rate for the last year (2017-18) of the PML-N government. The growth came largely from the services sector, which was less job intensive.

Planning Secretary Zafar Hasan chaired the 102nd meeting of the NAC that endorsed the provisional economic growth rate figure on the basis of data received from the federal and provincial governments.

Riaz Haq said...

#US urges #China to waive #Pakistan’s #debt. “At a time of crisis like Covid-19, it is really incumbent on China to take steps to alleviate the burden that this predatory, unsustainable and unfair lending is going to cause to Pakistan” #CPEC #PMLN #COVID https://tribune.com.pk/story/2225775/1-us-urges-china-waive-off-pakistans-debt-amid-covid-19-crisis/

The United States on Wednesday urged China either to wave off or renegotiate what it called “unsustainable and unfair” debt of Pakistan as it once again raised serious questions about the lack of transparency in the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“At a time of crisis like Covid-19, it is really incumbent on China to take steps to alleviate the burden that this predatory, unsustainable and unfair lending is going to cause to Pakistan,” said Alice Wells, the outgoing US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

“We hope China will join in either waving off debt or renegotiating these loans and creating a fair and transparent deal for Pakistani people,” Ambassador Wells said while addressing a farewell news briefing through a video link attended by journalists from South and Central Asia.
This was not the first time the US and Wells in particular publically questioned the viability of CPEC. Wells in the past also expressed similar views, declaring CPEC detrimental to Pakistan’s economy.

China always dismissed the US claims and instead challenged Washington to match its economic assistance to Pakistan.

Ambassador Wells, who is retiring this week, said the US supports CPEC and other development projects as long as they meet international standards, uphold environmental and labour standards.

“I enumerated my concerns and the United States government’s concerns over CPEC, over the lack of transparency involved in the project, over the unfair rates of profits that are guaranteed to Chinese state organisations to the distortions it caused in the Pakistani economy including by the massive imbalance in the trade Pakistan now has with China,” she argued.

Pakistan has been seeking debt relief from G20 countries to offset the negative fallout of coronavirus on its economy.

----------------

The top US diplomat also spoke about President Trump’s South Asia strategy, which according to Wells, brought fundamental change in approach towards Pakistan.

She said that Trump’s strategy had made it clear that Pakistan had to take decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that supported conflict in Afghanistan.

The suspension of security assistance by President Trump in January 2018 was a demonstration of that resolve to hold Pakistan accountable for the alleged presence of terrorist groups on its soil, she added.

According to Wells, since then Pakistan had taken “constructive steps” to advance Afghan peace process. She said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had developed “solid cooperation” with Pakistan civil and military leadership.

The US senior diplomat also praised Pakistan’s steps to eradicate threat posed by terrorist groups to regional stability.

“Pakistan is also taking initial steps towards curtailing other terrorist groups that threatened the region such as arresting and prosecuting Laskhar-e-Tayaba leader Hafza Saeed and beginning to dismantle terrorist financing structures.

“And as Pakistan’s commitment to the regional peace grown, we see initial growth in our relationship with Pakistan as well particularly in trade,” she further said.

Riaz Haq said...

Overseas #remittances to #Pakistan increase 6% to $18.8 billion in 10 months (July-April), up by $980.6 million from $17.8 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier.


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/657359-remittances-increase-6pc-to-18-8bln-in-july-april

In April, remittances amounted to $1.79 billion, recording a decrease of $104.4 million, or 5.5 percent, over remittance received during the previous month of March. There was a 1.1 percent increase in April from $1.77 billion in the corresponding month a year earlier.

The World Bank expected remittances to Pakistan to fall in the current fiscal year compared with $22.5 billion in the preceding fiscal year due to global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and oil fall.

The COVID-19 might cause a significant drop in remittances since all the four major countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, US and UK – from where 80 percent of the total remittances are received reeled from the coronavirus lockdown. Alone Saudi Arabia and UAE account for 60 to 70 percent of remittances inflows in Pakistan. Oil producing economies are facing decade-worst oil price crash.

In April, larger amounts of workers’ remittances ($451.4 million) were received from Saudi Arabia, followed by USA ($401.9 million), UAE ($353.8 million) and UK ($226.6 million), recording an increase of 14 percent for USA, whereas a decrease of 0.2 percent, 15.8 percent and 8.8 percent for Saudi Arabia, UAE and UK respectively as compared to March, the SBP said.

Pakistani workers living in Saudi Arabia sent home $4.3 billion in July-April FY2020, compared with $4.1 billion in the corresponding period of FY2019. Remittance from the USA rose 21.3 percent to $3.282 billion in July-April period. Pakistan attracted $2.7 billion from the UK, compared with $2.7 billion last year. Remittances from the European Union countries rose 6 percent to $515.2 million. Remittances from UAE stood at $3.9 billion, compared with $3.7 billion last year. From gulf cooperation council countries, the inflows amounted to $1.7 billion, up 3.6 percent year-over-year.

Workers’ remittances showed a 4 percent year-on-year increase in the monthly average till January.

Remittances grew at a compounded annual rate of nearly nine percent during five years (2012/19), with inflows mainly coming from gulf cooperation council countries – 54 percent of total remittances in 2019 –, followed by the US (16pc), the UK (16pc) and Malaysia (7pc). Remittances have grown even more, in terms of local currency, because the rupee depreciated more than 40 percent over this period.

Riaz Haq said...

Goldman Sachs gives #India’s growth forecast a ‘gigantic downgrade’. GS revised its growth forecast and said India's #economy is expected to contract by 5% for the fiscal year that began in April and ends in March 2021. #Modi #Recession2020 #BJP #Hindutva https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/22/coronavirus-goldman-sachs-on-india-growth-gdp-forecast.html?__source=sharebar|twitter&par=sharebar

Prachi Mishra, chief India economist at the investment bank, said two reasons factored in the forecast revision: the poor set of economic data released in March and April as well as the extended nationwide lockdown that is expected at least until end of May.

The extended period of lockdown in India due to the coronavirus outbreak is set to take a toll on the country’s growth outlook, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The bank revised its growth prediction this week for the full fiscal year in India that began in April and will end in March 2021. Gross domestic product is expected to contract by 5% for the year, worsening from the bank’s earlier prediction of a negative 0.4% growth.

“This is a really gigantic downgrade,” Prachi Mishra, chief India economist at Goldman Sachs, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday. “A forecast of minus 5% for the year as a whole would be as deep as compared to the deepest recession India has witnessed since 1979.”

India’s first-quarter GDP data is expected next week and the outlook remains bleak among economists.

The South Asian country was already facing an economic slowdown before the virus outbreak pushed the government to impose a nationwide lockdown that began in late March and has subsequently been extended multiple times at least until the end of May. Economic activity grounded to a halt as a result, affecting millions of small businesses as well as large corporations, while millions of people lost their jobs.

India now has over 118,000 cases of infections and more than 3,500 people have died, according to the health ministry.

Riaz Haq said...

Amid #COVID19, #Pakistan looks to #China for economic boost. Projects like #diamerbhashadam , #Gwadar airport, #western #motorway being finalized as part of #CPEC, ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping to #Islamabad. #coronavirus #economy https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/3085523/coronavirus-bites-pakistan-looks-china-belt-and-road-economic?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=share_widget&utm_campaign=3085523 via @scmpnews


Projects including a dam, airport and motorway are being finalised in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping
Prime Minister Imran Khan is keen to generate jobs for the country’s workers, 25 million of whom have been rendered jobless during the pandemic

After a two-year slowdown in the execution of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) following the 2018 election of Imran Khan as prime minister, Pakistan officials are finalising proposals for new infrastructure projects worth billions, ahead of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping this year.
According to recent statements by Pakistan’s CPEC Authority, which was established during Khan’s visit to Beijing last October, officials are close to wrapping up the “action plan” for the estimated US$8 billion ML-1 project to rehabilitate Pakistan’s rickety railway network.
It would be the single largest project of the CPEC, the first phase of which saw a collective US$19 billion of Chinese credit and investment poured into energy, motorway and other projects, said Chinese ambassador Yao Jing at a conference last year.

Asim Saeed Bajwa, the retired three-star general appointed as founding chairman of the CPEC Authority, said last month he expected to soon sign an agreement with the China Three Gorges Corp for the US$2.5 billion Kohala hydropower project, which would generate 1,124 megawatts of electricity.
Bajwa announced on May 7 that construction work had begun for a US$230 million airport at Gwadar, the site of a Chinese-developed and operated port on the Arabian Sea. Pakistan last month granted approval for the port to handle Afghanistan transit trade.

Bajwa said work on building a second motorway route through western Pakistan, to improve overland transit connectivity between Gwadar and China’s Xinjiang province, had accelerated. Contractors were recently invited to bid for the second section of motorway connecting the Karakorum Highway to Quetta, the administrative capital of Balochistan province, where Gwadar is located.

Andrew Small, author of the China-Pakistan Axis, said in the lead-up to Xi’s visit – which earlier this year was said to be happening in July – there had been a push from China and Pakistan to put together “a decent new package of projects, and also to ensure that any elements of the phase-one plans that had been stalled were pushed forward”.

The political stakes had been raised since CPEC was dragged into the “informational war” which erupted between Beijing and Washington last year, said Small, a Brussels-based senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a US think tank.
“Given the scrutiny that any visit from Xi would bring, and the need to convey a narrative of progress and success, there would always have been an effort of this sort,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Digital #Education: The Foundation Of #DigitalPakistan. Digitization of education and moving on to technological education must be the foundation of digital #Pakistan that is compatible with a #technology-led world. #literacy #distancelearning #Covid_19 https://academiamag.com/digital-education-the-foundation-of-digital-pakistan/

Pakistan’s oft lauded “strategic position” happens to see us situated in South Asia. Apart from the geopolitical advantage that some claim we inherit because of this location, there is precious little that the world’s most underdeveloped region has to offer. According to a well-researched study by Mahbub ul-Haq published in 1997, “South Asia is fast emerging as the poorest, most-illiterate, the most malnourished, the least gender-sensitive–indeed, the most deprived region in the world.” Over two decades later, much of that still rings true. If we were to just focus on one aspect of the aforementioned quote, as is the scope of this article, education alone hasn’t progressed at a rate one would expect it to. Currently, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC), with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school.

That represents 44 percent of the total population in this age group. In the 5-9 age group, 5 million children are not enrolled in schools and after primary-school age, the number of OOSC doubles, with 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10-14 not receiving formal education. Disparities based on gender, socio-economic status, and geography are significant. In Sindh, 52 percent of the poorest children (58 percent girls) are out of school, and in Balochistan, 78 percent of girls are out of school, as reported by UNICEF.

Regional Benchmarks
With such a dismal background, it is extremely unsettling to note that these statistics only refer to basic education. The world has moved to digital and technological education and skill development, the likes of which the school children of our country have probably never even heard of. Furthermore, if we were to just look East, Bangladesh is one of the top four countries in terms of ‘improvement and remarkable growth’ in digital economy in the last four years, according to Huawei Global Connectivity Index (GCI) 2019. The GCI report was published by Huawei on digital development based on how ICT innovation and ICT applications can grow national economies, and a result of open research into the digital economy with top universities, think tanks, and industry associations.

Bangladesh has come a long way in literacy by efficiently responding to the Basic Literacy Project and by incorporating technology within the education sector. Bangladesh’s literacy rate has risen significantly in the past decade, estimated at 72.76%, according to the latest data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). The rate is increasing as the present government is adopting multifaceted programs and it is one of the major reasons that UN Committee for Development Policy (CPD) has promoted Bangladesh to a ‘Developing Country’ status. To realize the plan for Digital Bangladesh, many institutions in the education sector have adopted information technology to engage the attention of students through visual representation of sounds, concepts and pictures alongside interactive activities.

With such an effective digital infrastructure already in place, Bangladesh was in a much better position to implement disaster management strategies to deal with COVID-19 outbreak with respect to education, a far cry from what has happened in Pakistan Online classes, remote and distant learning facilities were much easier to establish in Bangladesh. We, on the other hand, have just started to venture into the world that is digital education.

With the prime minister’s initiative of “Digital Pakistan” we seem to be on the right path, albeit a little too late. We must leverage all that we can from such a scheme for Pakistan to bridge the gap between where other nations stand and where we stand.

Riaz Haq said...

Amid #COVID19 #lockdown, #Pakistan’s #textile #exports plummet 65% in April 2020 to $404 million from exports of $1,138.35 million in the same month of 2019. #economy #trade https://tribune.com.pk/story/2226611/2-pakistans-textile-exports-plummet-65-april/

Textile enterprises have demanded that the government reopen all the textile industries along with the restoration of the zero-rated sales tax status as textile exports have been severely affected. In April 2020, textile exports declined 65% to $404 million against exports of $1,138.35 million in the same month of the previous year.

“This should set off alarm bells for the official quarters concerned,” remarked All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Zone Chairman Adil Bashir.

In the wake of a heavy fall in exports as well as domestic sales of textile products, Bashir demanded the restoration of the zero-rated status for the five major export-oriented sectors in order to give a boost to the textile industry in its endeavours to increase local production and exports, and save millions of jobs.
He urged the government to take serious measures to overcome the liquidity issues of the textile industry.

Sales of all major textile categories plummeted in April, with garments being the most affected. Cumulatively, textile exports dropped 3% year-on-year in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year to $10.82 billion, said JS Research analyst Ahmed Lakhani.

Some improvement is expected in May as shipping delays have been reduced. Moreover, buying countries were also gradually easing the lockdown, which should support demand recovery, he added. In the prevailing situation, it is pertinent to see what special incentives can be offered to the export-oriented sectors. On the other hand, “the risk remains that despite the incentives, a potentially severe second and third wave of Covid-19 can neutralise any impact from the government incentives,” commented the analyst.

The Aptma chairman said the trend of exports in April 2020 was very frightening as Pakistan’s annual shipments to EU countries and the US, exceeding $10 billion, were fraught with risks due to delay and cancellation of export orders after the coronavirus lockdown and liquidation or closure of many retail chains. Pakistan Cloth Merchants Association Secretary-General Arif Ismail urged the Sindh government to allow all textile and allied industries to resume operations and comply with the prescribed SOPs.

The Aptma chairman stressed that the textile industry was the backbone of the country with more than 60% of total exports and the largest employer with widespread employment for professionals, skilled and unskilled workers.

He said the zero-rated regime was introduced in 2005-06 with declared objectives of eliminating cash liquidity issues, wiping out refunds of billions of rupees stuck for long, avoiding unproductive waste of man-hours in chasing tax refunds and eliminating the additional cost borne on the filing and follow-up of refund claims.

Bashir stated that 17% of sales tax was imposed on the textile industry with effect from July 2019 with lofty claims of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of processing refund claims within 72 hours through the newly developed FASTER software system.

FASTER still lacks basic provisions like Section 8B, eight-digit HS code, etc, which hampers the system.

He raised eyebrows over the working of FASTER system and stated that due to inherent weaknesses in the system a large number of taxpayers had not been able to even file Annex-H.

Riaz Haq said...

#TikTok’s Desi Version #MitronApp Popular in #India is a Copy of #Pakistan’s #TicTic App. Analysis of its source code reveals that #Mitron, which has ridden high on an anti-#China and anti-TikTok sentiment, was developed by a #Pakistani developer. https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/mitron-app-indian-tik-tok-rebranded-from-pakistani-app-tictic-qboxus-anfroid-playstore


“Well, there is no problem with what the developer has done. He paid for it and got the script which is okay. But the problem is with people and Media referring to as Indian made app which is not the truth.”
Irfan Sheikh, Founder & CEO, QBoxus
fbtw
The Pakistani company has raised two specific issues:

The real author of the app to be acknowledged and credited instead of attributing Shivank Agarwal as the creator of the app.
The absence of any original modifications to the purchased code. “The worst thing is that the developer even didn't bother to fix bugs and issues in the app and directly uploaded it on Play Store, which is really a shame,” he added.
The Quint has reached out to Mitron App for comments on the claims made by QBoxus along with details the publication has found. The story will be updated once Mitron responds.

Identical Login Screen
The login screen for both apps shares an identical schema as well. Both can be seen using “action_login.xml”

TicTic Strings Left Behind in Mitron’s Code
Further, a ‘change_log’ file present in the decompiled Mitron source code contains the string “com.dinosoftlabs.tictic” – which is the package name of the TicTic application developed and released by QBoxus.

However, there are some minor differences to be noted in the User Interface (UI).

The splash screen which welcomes the user to the app differs visually across both. Further, Mitron does not currently allow users to log in via Facebook, whereas TicTic does.
fbtw
Apart from this, the application programming interface (API) for both applications are completely identical, which alone allows one to fully ascertain the claim that Mitron is indeed only a re-skinned iteration of TicTic.

TicTic’s Security Flaw Also In Mitron
Regardless, while re-skinned applications are not an entirely new phenomenon, they come with their own drawbacks.

For instance, a vulnerability that exists in the original codebase is likely to propagate to all other instances of the application and remain unfixed in each and every one of them.

This is also the case for TicTic and Mitron, as both applications share a common security flaw in the way through which the ‘follow account’ action is handled.
fbtw
The flaw can allow a malicious actor to force other users to follow any given account, simply by tampering with a few parameters on the ‘follow user’ request.


Mitron Has A Different Backend Though
Although it would be correct to state that both applications share the same code base, it should be clarified that this does not mean the same backend is shared among both applications.

The Mitron app’s server and API are located on shopkiller.in, whereas the TicTic application communicates with bringthings.com. This means that both user data as well as uploaded videos for Mitron are stored on a separate server (an Amazon Web Services S3 instance to be specific) in contrast to TicTic.

This particular application was able to blur the lines between an individually developed platform versus a generic rip-off.
fbtw
This is made evident by the number of people who have so far downloaded and installed the application (a number which is resting at 5 million at the time of publication).

In the context of Mitron, it’s meteoric rise in popularity can probably be attributed to it being touted as an “Indian version” of Tik Tok.