BUSINESS

Affordable internet necessary for national development: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said internet should be recognized as a good tool to lift people out of poverty. Pakistan should provide free internet to women, students, and small traders while cell phones should be used for education. He said that there are 150 million mobile users in Pakistan, 55 million use broadband, while broadband usage is expected to jump by 44 percent by 2020 which will increase GDP by 4.1 percent.  Pakistan can benefit from Chinese experience which lifted 700 million people out of poverty with the help of some tools including the internet, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that taxes should be reduced on ICT services and duties on cell phone import should be reduced to help empower the poor.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that China has planned to eradicate poverty by next year as people of remote areas are now connected through the internet which the same is helping improve education, agriculture, industry, and trade.

The former minister noted that 5G will help China create eight million new jobs while the whole country could be covered by 5G services in three years.

Pakistan can also improve ICT infrastructure to ensure rapid development and reduce poverty. Investors need to deal with dozens of departments and there is no end to their demands which acts as a disincentive that should be noticed, he said. The business leader noted that mobile is also an important tool to eradicate poverty, therefore, taxes and duties on cell phones should be reduced while telecom companies should be directed to improve their services. He said that in 2017 five companies tried to assemble mobiles in Pakistan but to no avail. 

He said that ease of doing business should be promoted, the legal framework should be improved, technology parks should be established, research and development should be promoted and an action plan should be finalized without delay to improve the overall situation to reduce poverty which is in line with the aspirations of Prime Minister Imran Khan.