Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq
The global digital economy and electronic commerce (E-commerce) in the wake of Covid-19 endemic have assumed enhanced significance in facilitating the businesses and their clients, the governments and the citizens to transcend the barriers of geographical boundaries, time and distance. The digital economy and E-commerce also pose complex taxation issues worldwide. On June 7, 2017, Pakistan signed the ‘Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting [hereinafter “MLI”]. Earlier on September 14, 2016, Pakistan became signatory of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters [“the Convention”] aimed at international cooperation in all possible areas curbing growing tax evasion and avoidance.
Pakistan ratified MLI by depositing required instrument on December 18, 2020. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) deals with income tax, sales tax on goods, custom duties and federal excise duty. The provincial authorities, namely, Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA), Sindh Revenue Board (SRB), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Authority (KPRA) and Balochistan Revenue Authority (BRA) deal with sales tax on services and some other levies. In the case of transprovincial enterprises, the Supreme Court of Pakistan inMessers Sui Southern Gas Ltd & Others v Federation of Pakistan & Other2018 SCMR 802 held as under:
“We are in agreement with the observation made by the learned High Court that though in a Federal system, provincial autonomy means capacity of a province to govern itself without interference from the Federal Government or the Federal legislature, but as the Provincial legislature does not possess extra-territorial legislative authority i.e. it cannot legislate regarding the establishments operating beyond the territorial boundaries of that province”.
[underlined for emphasis]
Article 141 of the Constitution reads as under:
141. Extent of Federal and Provincial laws. Subject to the Constitution, Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) may make laws (including laws having extra-territorial operation) for the whole or any part of Pakistan, and a Provincial Assembly may make laws for the Province or any part thereof.
[underlined for emphasis]
It is pertinent to mention that the judgement of Sindh High Court in Shafiquddin Moinee v Federation of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Islamabad & 2 Others 2018 CLD 1088 upholding imposition of Sindh Companies Profits (Workers Participation) Act, 2015 on transprovincial enterprises was challenged in the Supreme Court and on 10.7.2018 after granting leave to appeal, it suspended the operation of the said order relying on Southern Gas Company Ltd, and others versus Federation of Pakistan and others (2018 SCMR 802). The Supreme Court also pointed out that issue involved is already sub judice in another Civil Petition No.1604 of 2018 [OGDCL versus Federation of Pakistan].
The federal and provincial governments must approach Supreme Court of Pakistan having exclusive jurisdiction in the matter under Article 184(1) & (2) that reads as under:
184. Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court.-(1) The Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of every other Court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute between any two or more Governments.
Explanation.-In this clause, “Governments” means the Federal Government and the Provincial Governments.
(2) In the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred on it by clause (1), the Supreme Court shall pronounce declaratory judgments only.
The issue of jurisdiction must be settled as early as possible to end uncertainty, especially after the Federal Government has made MLI effective from April 1, 2021 to implement Actions related to ‘Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ [hereinafter “BEPS”]. The very first ‘Action’ under BEPS is ‘Tax Challenges Arising from Digitalisation’. Presently, 135 plus countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to counter “annual revenue loss of US$ 240 billion by multinational companies (MNCs) and 90 plus countries and jurisdictions have signed MLI on BEPS”.
Action 1 under BEPS is “addressing the tax challenges raised by digitalisation currently the top priority for the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework, and has been a key area of focus of the BEPS Project since its inception”. This paper is divided into two parts—the first deals with general principles necessary for the development and growth of digitalisation and the second highlights some vital challenges relating to taxation.
I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
The federal and provincial governments must facilitate the private sector to take a lead in rapid growth of digital economy as highlighted in the preamble of erstwhile ‘Special Technology Zones Authority Ordinance, 2020’ (erstwhile STZA Ordinance): “Institutional and legislative support for the technology sector with internationally competitive and export oriented structures and ecosystem, to attract foreign direct investment, develop collaboration ecosystem connecting academia, research and technology industry, to initiate innovation in production systems and products, to increase the standards and quality of technology goods and services, to increase productivity and decrease the costs of production through high-tech interventions, intensive innovation and futuristic entrepreneurship, to enable job creation, to commercialise technological knowledge and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
The erstwhile STZA Ordinance, issued on December 2, 2020, expired on April 1, 2021 and the government now intends to introduce it as a Bill in the Parliament. It is very good opportunity for the Government to take all the stakeholders on board and after public debate and input from the expert present it as a Bill to be passed by the National Assembly and Senate.
The governments should make law after proper research, debate and seeking input from the experts in the field.
The standing committees of National Assembly and Senate should also consider the Bills presented by the government or private Bills presented by any member of house minutely and there should be live public hearing of the proceedings of these committees that may call experts for opinion. This will not only improve process of legislation and quality of law but also participation of the public as they can send their feedback.
A. Governments should avoid undue restrictions
In Pakistan, for the first time any government thought of proposing a comprehensive law for development of integrated technological ecosystem through development of “Zone” and “Zone Enterprise”.
We pointed out many areas of improvement in this proposed law and draft rules. For example, there are two important issues highlighted below that need to be disentangled before it is now presented as a Bill:
(a) Approval of Zones
The erstwhile Ordinance did not impose any geographical restriction on which area/location a “Zone” can be established or developed. It was distinguished from a “Zone Enterprise”. However, section 14 of the erstwhile STZA Ordinance allows that “The Authority shall develop criteria for approval of zones under its rules and regulations”. Schedule I of the proposed rules allows for 3-Tiers of zones ranging from 1 acre to more than 100 acres. This limits the criteria of a ‘Zone’ to at least one acre in size.
(b) Licensing of Zone Enterprise (ZE)
The interplay of the erstwhile STZA Ordinance and the proposed rules as they relate to a ZE must be clarified. The erstwhile STZA Ordinance says a ZE is an “entity investing, operating, functioning within the zone and notified as such by the Authority”. This establishes a physical nexus between a ZE and a Zone (i.e. a ZE has to “function” within a Zone). However, the proposed rules, specifically rule 25(4)(c), state that a license for a ZE may be issued “regardless of whether the Zone is the business’s primary place of business”. It gives rise to following conflicting situation:
(i) Any existing site can be declared as a ‘Zone’ subject to the minimum size of 1 acre. Further, if any existing business happens to be located in a premises which is notified as a zone, then the question is: will it meet the condition to get a licence as a zone enterprise?
(ii) However, what happens if any existing business is NOT located in a zone? Can it then be licensed as a ZE, for example, renting the premises for a one-man operation in an authorized zone? Does this one-man operation pass the test of “functioning within the “zone”? Or should there be a minimum threshold for operation within a Zone, defined in either absolute terms (minimum headcount) or percentage terms (30% of total headcount must be located in the zone). This also then raises the next question: Would such “partial” functioning within an authorised zone still provide cover to the full range of tax and investments or would this be pro-rated to the degree of participation?
The above is a classic case where our governments impose restrictions not even provided in the parent law under which these are made. There should be simple law that once a minimum threshold test is met, the entity should get the full protection extended to a ZE. Besides, the minimum threshold should be meaningful and not just one-man sitting in a small office. The above case study shows how our governments need to avoid undue restrictions under ambiguous laws, contradictory rules and onerous regulations when dealing with digital economy and technological ecosystem to attract domestic and foreign direct investment.
B. Governments should recognise the unique qualities of digital economy
It is imperative that digital economy should be recognised as unique business model not comparable to those confined to geographical boundaries and buildings etc. Regulations should be meant as necessary means to achieve the goal(s) on which there is a broad consensus. Existing tax laws and regulations hinder digital economy. These must be reviewed and revised to reflect the needs of the new electronic age.
C. Global status should be encouraged
The digital economy is emerging as a global market place. World trade involving computer software, entertainment products (motion pictures, videos, games, sound recording etc.), information services (database, online newspapers), financial services, and professional services (business and technical consultancy, accounting, architectural design, legal advice, travel services etc.) have grown rapidly in the past decade.
In the aftermath of complete and partial lockdowns due to third and deadly wave of Covid-19, latest data from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), from three major economies show a growing reliance on digital technologies that could boost in 2021 imports, exports of ICT goods and services. The available data confirm that digital economy could be tens of billions of dollars in the next two decades.
D. Pakistan’s scenario
The eexport of ICT services increased 40 percent during the first half (July-Dec) of the current financial year (2020-21), and the Ministry of Commerce foresees that it would cross $2 billion this year. The most significant increase in exports was witnessed in ‘telecom & ICT services’, which surged by 40 percent to $958 million in the first half of the financial year 2021 as compared to $684 million in the same period of previous fiscal year.
Undoubtedly, a great challenge lies ahead for our policymakers and legislators but their actions, rather inactions, so far are quite disturbing. The pace of legislation as well as quality of drafting of law, rules and regulations are very poor for want of meaningful consultation with stakeholders and input from experts. For promoting digital economy, the policy makers are faced with historic responsibility to take swift measures and adequately address the concerns of businesses and consumers about predictable legal environment governing digital and e-commerce transactions. Concerns about enforcement of contracts, liability, intellectual property protection, privacy, security, taxes and duties and other related matters should be addressed on war footing and tackled with prudence and competence ensuring certainty, predictability and precision.
As the digital economy during Covid-19 endemic is growing at an amazing pace, there are bona fide concerns among existing operators and prospective investors, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in respect of IT and IT-enabled services. Recently, the government imposed undue and unnecessary regulations, including costly and complicated tax compliance. The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication till today, with its best efforts and under a dynamic and dedicated Secretary has not succeeded in passage of proposed Personal Data Protection Bill, 2020 (first quarter of 2021 has already gone). This proposed law also has many shortcomings that need to be fixed. In the absence of this law, foreign investors are reluctant to come to Pakistan despite knowing that it has extraordinary human talent in IT field.
The above shows apathy of the successive governments and problems related to capacity, competence and capability of our outdated bureaucratic structures running the ministries and even so-called technocrats or heads of independent bodies (sic) working under a federal or provincial government, formed or by a separate statute. It needs to be realised that ICT sector requires competent visionaries. Through simple laws and regulations for ICT sector with use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), many small countries are reaping the fruits and getting extraordinary dividends because of their bold initiative for developing special technology parks offering innovators to earn billions and help the overall economy to grow through digitalisation. We need to learn from them.
II. MAJOR TAXATION ISSUES
The most problematic area is imposition of undue taxes and duties along with difficult procedure and high compliance cost by the federal and provincial governments on telecommunication sector and discouragement of IT and IT-enabled services. It is simply shocking that exports of IT and IT-enabled services through a Presidential Ordinance issued on March 22, 2021, on the dictates of IMF for securing a tranche of US$ 500, have been subjected to complex, cumbersome and unnecessary compliance for claiming 100% tax credit though promise for tax exemption was given till tax year 2025. This premature (tactical) withdrawal of the same has shaken the confidence of the industry.
In Bangladesh, the government gives 10% cash incentive to IT and IT-enabled export proceeds. “The Sri Lankan ICT sector serves a number of Industry verticals with over 300 companies at present… A highly skilled talent pool combined with the cost-effective operational ability makes…ICT one of the most profitable industries….Vision 2022 aims it to become the number one foreign exchange….with US$5 billion in revenue, creating 200,000 direct jobs and 1,000 start-ups”.
On the contrary, our telecommunication sector is the most heavily taxed in the entire region—Morbid taxation: stifling growth of private sector—case study of telecom industry, Management Accountant, Volume 29.3, May-June 2020. This shows why Pakistan is lagging behind in ICT sector, both domestically and in the export arena even compared to many other countries having much lower GDP and human resource.
CONCLUSIONS & SUGGESTIONS:
According to latest data available on the website of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the total number of cellular subscribers as on January 31, 2021 is 180 million (84% teledensity), out of which 95 million are 3G/4G subscribers (44.5% penetration), 2 million basic telephony users (1.3 teledensity) and 98 million broadband subscribers (45.6% penetration). At present, the entire taxable population and even those having no income or income below taxable limit are paying advance and adjustable income tax (12.5%) as pre-paid or post-paid mobile users. With this level of broadband penetration Pakistan can rapidly become the destination choice for a significant number of international IT/ITeS companies looking to relocate their operations offshore. Pakistan has ready availability of skilled professionals, but factors mentioned above are the main stumbling block.
There is a need to develop a holistic approach by examining existing anti-growth taxation, cumbersome rules and procedures, tax treaties and BEPS. The new draft Bill for this sector should be prepared and passed as proposed above.
FBR and all the provincial authorities [PRA, SRB, KPRA & BRA] under international law are bound to implement MLI. It is, therefore, imperative to incorporate in our domestic tax laws all BEPS’ Actions vis-a-vis tax challenges arising from ICT and their cross-border transactions. In the wake of SRO 405(1)/2021 FBR must take up the matter with National Tax Council (NTA) for implementing the matters under MLI with provincial governments in respect of services as this subject falls within the domain of provinces in terms of Entry 49, Part I of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution which says: “Taxes on the sales and purchases of goods imported, exported, produced, manufactured or consumed, except sales tax on services”.
The draft Bill and rules must be made public so that these are properly harmonised and deficiencies are removed before presenting in Parliament. The proposed law should override all other laws, if any conflict arises through the following provision:
“The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force and any such law shall, to the extent of any inconsistency, cease to have any effect on the commencement of this Act”.
The proposed law must provide the following incentives:
- With the objective of promoting a particular high-tech sector, industry or zone, the competent authority may grant additional benefits to zone enterprises and zone developers, provided that–
- such additional benefits can only be granted if the these are justified on the basis of an economic impact assessment.
- such additional benefits, if granted conditionally, may be liable to be forfeited with retroactive effect if it is finally determined that a zone developer or zone enterprise has failed to comply with the conditions prescribed for the additional benefits in question; and
- the council of experts shall make economic impact assessment of the zone within five years from the date the agreement is signed and within the first year of operations of an enterprise.
- Incentives under this law shall be additional to all incentives, benefits and protections, which may be applicable to zone developers and zone enterprises under generally applicable legislation and international agreements of Pakistan.
- These incentives shall not be withdrawn prematurely and retrospectively and any change therein shall be to the advantage of the zone developer and zone enterprise.
The following tax incentives for “zone developers” are necessary:
- exemption from all taxes on income accruable in relation to the development and operations of the zones for a period of ten years, starting from the date of signing of the development agreement;
- exemption from all custom duties and taxes for a period of ten years from the date of signing of the development agreement on capital goods including but not limited to materials, plant, machinery, hardware, equipment and software imported into Pakistan for consumption within zones and zone developers; and
- exemption from general sales tax (GST) on goods and services on import of plant, machinery, equipment and raw-materials for consumption of these items within zones and zone developers.
The following tax incentives are imperative for “zone enterprises”:
- exemption from all income taxes (withholding tax, turnover, minimum and presumptive tax) for a period of ten years from the date of issuance of license by the competent authority;
- exemption from all custom duties and taxes for a period of ten years from the date of issuance of license on capital goods including but not limited to materials, plant, machinery, hardware, equipment and software imported into Pakistan for consumption within zones and zone enterprises;
- exemption from property tax for ten years from the date of issuance of license;
- exemption from GST on goods and services on import of plant, machinery, equipment and raw-materials for consumption of these items within zones as well as zone enterprises and services acquired; and
- tax exemption on dividend-income and capital gains from investments in a venture capital (VC) undertaking for a period of ten years from the date of issuance of license to zone and zone enterprise.
The process of legislation, wherever required in tax codes dealing with digitalisation of economy, e-commerce and cross-border ICT transactions related to goods and services should be undertaken by the National Assembly and provincial assemblies as provided in the Constitution. After the completion of this process, FBR and provincial agencies dealing with sales tax on services must issue detailed guidelines for the taxpayers after soliciting input from Pakistan Software Houses Association, other stakeholders, statutory bodies e.g. Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMA), Institute of Chartered Accountant of Pakistan (ICAP), tax bars and input from academia/experts.
The telecom/IT industries, digital economy and ICT goods and services should be encouraged to create a vibrant market place facilitating growth in all sectors and bringing Pakistan at par with countries that achieved rapid economic growth and development like China that got its independence two years after Pakistan.
Ms. Huzaima Bukhari, Advocate High Court and Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), is author of numerous books and articles on Pakistani tax laws. She is editor of Taxation and partner of Huzaima & Ikram, a leading law firm of Pakistan. From 1984 to 2003, she was associated with Civil Services of Pakistan. She specialises in the areas of international tax laws, corporate and commercial laws. She is review editor for many publications of Amsterdam-based International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) and contributes regularly to their journals. She has to her credit over 1500 articles on issues of public importance, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad.She has coauthored with Dr. Ikramul Haq many books that include Tax Reforms in Pakistan: Historic & Critical Review, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised/enlarged edition of December 2020), Pakistan: Enigma of Taxation, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes, Law & Practice of Income Tax, Law , Practice of Sales Tax, Law and Practice of Corporate Law, Law & Practice of Federal Excise, Law & Practice of Sales Tax on Services, Federal Tax Laws of Pakistan, Provincial Tax Laws, Practical Handbook of Income Tax, Tax Laws of Pakistan, Principles of Income Tax with Glossary andMaster Tax Guide, Income Tax Digest 1886-2011 (with judicial analysis). The recent publication, coauthored with Abdul Rauf Shakoori and Dr. Ikramul Haq is Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges & Solutions
She regularly writes columns for Pakistani newspapers and has contributed over 1500 articles on issues of public finance, taxation, economy and on various social issues in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad.
Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specialises in constitutional, corporate and tax laws. He established Huzaima & Ikram in 1996 and is presently its chief partner as well as partner in Huzaima Ikram & Ijaz. He studied journalism, English literature and law. He is Chief Editor of Taxation andVisiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is author of Commentary on Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements signed by Pakistan, Pakistan: From Hash to Heroin, its sequelPakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap and Practical Handbook of Income Tax. He regularly writes columns for many Pakistani newspapers and international journals and has contributed over 2500 articles on a variety of issues of public interest, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad.
 According to OECD, there are several ways to define and measure the ‘Digital Economy’, making it difficult to set effective policies. A 2020 OECD report for the G20 Digital Economy Task Force, Roadmap toward a Common Framework for Measuring the Digital Economy, proposes a common definition and a tiered framework to help establish clear, comparable measures for policy making:
“The Digital Economy incorporates all economic activity reliant on, or significantly enhanced by the use of digital inputs, including digital technologies, digital infrastructure, digital services and data. It refers to all producers and consumers, including government, that are utilising these digital inputs in their economic activities.”—https://www.oecd.org/digital/ieconomy/roadmap-toward-a-common-framework-for-measuring-the-digital-economy.pdf, accessed on April 3, 2021.
 The term “electronic commerce”, popularly called E-commerce”, is used loosely to cover a wide field including computer software transactions, electronic retailing, banking, broadcasting via terrestrial TV, cable TV or satellite links, cellular and fixed line telecommunications and any other business activity carried out electronically. It includes business activities carried out through convergence of different types of IT such as computing, telecommunications and broadcasting.
 Notified through S.R.O. 405(1)/2021 dated April 1, 2021, for complete text, visit: https://download1.fbr.gov.pk/SROs/202142164212305MLIFATE.pdf, accessed on April 3, 2021.
This notification signed by the Additional Secretary [Director General (International Taxes)] says “in exercise of the powers conferred by under sub-section (1) of section 107 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 (XLIX of 2001), the Federal Government is pleased to direct that the provisions of the said Convention, in terms of its Article 34 of the Convention, shall have entry into force on the Ist day of April, 2021 and in terms of Article 35(l)(a) and (b) and Article 35(5) (a) and (b) of the Convention shall have effect in each of the contracting jurisdiction with respect to Covered Tax Agreement”.
 The OECD and the Council of Europe jointly developed the Convention in 1988 and amended by Protocol in 2010. It is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation to tackle tax evasion and avoidance but with its own limitations.
 In November 2016, over 100 jurisdictions concluded negotiations on MLI for swiftly implementing a series of tax treaty measures to update international tax rules and lessen the opportunity for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises, see details at https://www.oecd.org/tax/treaties/multilateral-convention-to-implement-tax-treaty-related-measures-to-prevent-beps.htm, accessed on April 3, 2021.
 Notified through S.R.O. 405(1)/2021 dated April 1, 2021, for complete text, the link is: https://download1.fbr.gov.pk/SROs/202142164212305MLIFATE.pdf, accessed on April 3, 2021.
 The Sindh High Court in Pakistan International Freight Forwarding Association v Province of Sindh & Another [(2016) 114 TAX 413 (H.C. Kar.) examined the following important questions and held that on the same taxable event, both federation and provinces cannot levy different taxes as entries in the Constitution are mutually exclusive and sales tax on services falls in exclusive domain of provinces:
“Where lies the legislative competence to impose a fiscal levy (whether tax or duty) on the rendering or providing of services? Does it lie solely with the Federation, which presently levies a duty in terms of the relevant provisions of the Federal Excise Act, 2005 (“2005 Federal Act”)? Or does it vest only in the Provinces, where a tax is levied in terms of their respective statutes, being here the Sindh Sales Tax on Services Act, 2011 (“2011 Provincial Act”)? Or, as some have contended before us, does the taxing power vest simultaneously yet exclusively in both the Federation and the Provinces”.
 In all these cases, the dispute is between the Federal and Provincial Governments and High Courts cannot hear these matters in view of Article 184(1) of the Constitution as held in The Punjab Province v. Federation of Pakistan [(1960) 2-TAX (Suppl.–3) (S.C.Pak)=1960 PTD 1052=PLD 1956 FC 72 and CIT, Lahore v. Govt. Jallo Rosin and Turpentine Factory, Lahore [(1976) 34 TAX 71 (H.C.Lah.)=1976 PTD 206].
 Developed in the context of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project, the 15 actions set out to equip governments with domestic and international rules and instruments to address tax avoidance, ensuring that profits are taxed where economic activities generating the profits are performed and where value is created. See details at: http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-actions/, accessed on April 3, 2021.
 http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-actions/action1/, accessed on April 3, 2021
 The details of all signatories and actions completed by them as on March 30, 2021 are available at: https://www.oecd.org/tax/treaties/beps-mli-signatories-and-parties.pdf, accessed on April 3, 2021
 http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-actions/action1/, accessed on April 3, 2021
 Both within OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework for BEPS and initiative of United Nations Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI)
 http://www.pcp.gov.pk/SiteImage/Downloads/6460(20)Ex%20Gaz-I.pdf, accessed on April 3, 2021
 “Zone” as defined in section 2(r) of the erstwhile STZ Ordinance: “shall include any defined geographical area notified by the Authority with any such name including, but not limited to special technology zones, information technology parks, high-tech industrial area, software technology park, hardware technology park, technology export zones; free technology zones, science and technology park, information technology zones, science and technology zone, R&D Zone, opportunity zone, innovation zone, technology development zone, knowledge parks, smart city, knowledge city, technology incubation zone or any sector zone which may require technological intervention such as biotech, chemical technologies, agri-tech, fin tech, robotics, nanotech etc. and other zones with any combination or combinations of the aforesaid fields”.
“Zone enterprise” defined under section 2(q) of the STZ Ordinance “means any public, private, or public-private legal entity investing, operating, functioning within the zone and notified as such by the Authority”.
 Comprehensive data is available at https://unctadstat.unctad.org/wds/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=195158, accessed on April 4, 2021
 UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964. Its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland, and have offices in New York and Addis Ababa. For further details visit: https://unctad.org/about, accessed on April 3, 2021
 ICT goods exports are based on the World Customs Organisation’s Harmonised System (HS) which defines ICT products (including ICT goods). ICT goods must either be intended to fulfill the function of information processing and communication by electronic means, including transmission and display, or use electronic processing to detect, measure and/or record physical phenomena, or to control a physical process. For data and other details visit: https://data.oecd.org/ict/ict-goods-exports.htm, accessed on April 3, 2021. The comprehensive data of leading countries engaged in ICT goods and services is available at NationalMaster: Find Market Sizing and trends on any sector, in any country, https://www.nationmaster.com/, accessed on April 3, 2021.
https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2021/01/22/pakistans-ict-exports-likely-to-cross-2bn-in-fy21/, accessed on April 4, 2021
 https://moitt.gov.pk/SiteImage/Misc/files/Personal%20Data%20Protection%20Bill%202020(3).pdf, accessed on April 4, 2021
 Finance Bill and data privacy, The News, June 21, 2020, https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/675025-finance-bill-and-data-privacy, accessed on April 4, 2021.
 “Chairman Pakistan Software Houses Association Barkan Saeed stated that IT & IT enabled service sector has given record exports growth despite the pandemic with 40% increase in 2019-2020 and is on track to exceed $2 billion by the end of this financial year. He questioned what would be the future of freelancers and small IT service providers who are unable to hire tax consultants for maintaining documents under the proposed tax credit scheme”, https://www.brecorder.com/news/40073516/income-tax-amendment-bill-2021-several-exemptions-under-cpec-proposed-to-withdraw-expert, accessed on April 4, 2021
 https://www.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/editorial/cash-incentives-for-ict-exporters-1519403214, accessed on April 4, 2021
 https://www.srilankabusiness.com/ict-services/about/, accessed on April 4, 2021
 https://icmai.in/upload/Institute/Journal/Final_MA_June_2020.pdf, accessed on April 4, 2021
 BEPS refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational enterprises that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to avoid paying tax. Developing countries’ higher reliance on corporate income tax means they suffer from BEPS disproportionately. BEPS practices cost countries USD 100-240 billion in lost revenue annually. Working together within OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS, over 135 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating on the implementation of 15 measures to tackle tax avoidance, improve the coherence of international tax rules and ensure a more transparent tax environment”, https://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/about/, accessed on April 4, 2021.
 On March 12, 2020, according to Press release of Ministry of Finance, NTC was established and its terms of reference (ToRs) approved: http://www.finance.gov.pk/pr_jan_mar_2020.html, accessed on April 3, 2021
 According to a Press report, “The harmonisation of GST is part of the World Bank’s budgetary support loan of US$750 to US$900 million”. It is mentioned in the report that as “suggested by International Monetary Fund (IMF), the centre and provinces have finally agreed to establish NTC “to resolve all tax-related issues, especially for the harmonisation of general sales tax (GST) across the country”. The NTC recommendations would be finalised in terms of majority to be presented before Monitoring Committee of the National Finance Commission (NFC): https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/03/12/establishment-of-national-tax-council-approved-to-harmonise-gst/, accessed on April 3, 2021.