IT Ministry’s New Policy Targets $5 Billion Annual Earnings for Freelancers

IT Ministry

The Ministry of IT and Telecom has introduced the National Freelancing Facilitation Policy, which has been submitted to the Federal Cabinet for approval.

Developed after extensive consultations with stakeholders, the policy aims to position Pakistan as a leading global freelance market, thereby enhancing exports and foreign exchange earnings.

According to the IT Ministry, the policy will provide freelancers with greater access to international markets, projects, and clients through a comprehensive marketing and promotional strategy. Both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are proposed to boost the freelancing sector, with the objective of increasing the number of active freelancers to one million and raising their average annual earnings to $5,000.

This initiative could potentially generate $5 billion in export remittance inflows, establishing Pakistan as a premier freelancer marketplace.

Key components of the policy include the creation of a freelancer registry via a dedicated portal to facilitate interactions with local and international markets and regulatory authorities. The policy also proposes a transparent governance model and framework, digital banking, e-payments, and access to financial instruments, including low-interest loans for freelancers. Registered freelancers would benefit from an income tax holiday.

The policy focuses on creating a digital-ready environment and promoting learning and skill development practices. Capacity building and training programs will enhance the skills of human resources, with special initiatives for underserved areas and districts in Southern Balochistan to ensure inclusivity.

Additional recommendations include the establishment of a facilitation desk for freelancers, visa facilitation, and digital banking channels. Banks are encouraged to open technology business branches in at least six Pakistani cities to support freelancers. The Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) and related organizations will collaborate to provide subsidized, collateral-free loans up to Rs. 1 million, along with health, life, and employee liability insurance through subsidies.

Further measures include maintaining an income tax holiday for registered freelancers until 2030, launching new training and technology certification initiatives, and streamlining inward foreign exchange remittances using defined codes that are exempt from income tax.

The policy also seeks to enable freelancers to open foreign exchange bank accounts, allowing them to retain over 50 percent of their foreign exchange income in these accounts.

The PSEB will work with the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Board of Revenue to ensure these remittances remain tax-exempt until 2030.