The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has prepared a “National Freelancing Policy” for Pakistani Freelancers that suggests implementing a reduced sales tax rate, not exceeding two percent, on the local services revenue earned by Pakistani freelancers registered with the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB). The aim of this policy is to position Pakistan as a leading global freelance market and boost exports and foreign exchange for the country.
Under the proposed policy, the PSEB will collaborate with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to streamline inward foreign exchange remittances from freelancing activities. The SBP will assign freelancing defined codes that are subject to income tax exemptions. Moreover, the PSEB will work with the SBP to enable registered Pakistani freelancers to open foreign exchange bank accounts. Pakistani Freelancers will be allowed to retain 35 percent of their foreign exchange income received as inward remittances in these accounts, and the foreign exchange export remittances received in freelancing codes will remain income tax exempted until 2030, as ensured by the PSEB, the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
The policy also includes visa facilitation for Pakistani freelancers who have a minimum record of two years of IT and ITeS export remittances exceeding $5,000 per annum through formal banking channels. Additionally, registered freelancers with a minimum record of five years of freelancing exports remittances exceeding $12,000 per annum will be eligible for subsidized home loan schemes offered by the government and private initiatives.
The policy emphasizes providing access to international markets, projects, and clients for freelancers, along with introducing a robust marketing strategy and promotional plan. To support Pakistani freelancers, the PSEB will offer registration and renewal services at Rs1,000 and Rs3,500 per annum, respectively. Registered freelancers will gain access to PSEB programs and initiatives, including free and subsidized training, certifications, subsidized office space at Software Technology Parks (STPs) nationwide, and international marketing and matchmaking opportunities. The PSEB will establish a facilitation desk at their office and PSEB-operated STPs to address various matters concerning freelancers.
Furthermore, the policy outlines the provision of digital banking channels for freelancers, allowing them to open bank accounts, conduct e-payments, and access other financial instruments. Banks will also establish technology business branches in at least six Pakistani cities to assist freelancers with their specific needs. Collaboration between the PSEB, SBP, and banks will involve training the staff of these branches. Additionally, the PSEB, government bodies, and private sector organizations will work together to provide subsidized, collateral-free loans up to Rs1.0 million to registered Pakistani freelancers through existing and new initiatives of banks and financial institutions.
To further support freelancers, the policy suggests an income tax holiday on export income/revenue/receipts until 2030 for registered freelancers, subject to receiving income/revenue through formal banking channels using specific purpose codes assigned by the SBP. The PSEB and relevant organizations will also collaborate to provide subsidized health insurance, life insurance, and employee liability insurance to registered freelancers through existing and future subsidies and initiatives.
In terms of training and certifications, the PSEB will introduce new initiatives in collaboration with public and private sector organizations. Partnerships with multinational technology companies (tech MNCs) will be established to subsidize course materials and certifications, making them available to registered freelancers.
Overall, the National Freelancing Policy aims to create a conducive environment for Pakistani freelancers in Pakistan, promoting their growth, providing necessary support, and enhancing their contribution to the country’s economy.