By: Insaf Ali Bangwar
Wise, formerly known as Transfer Wise has recently banned Pakistan to pay or receive payments from across the globe. The second blow to convenience transactions after PayPal. Pakistan is a growing market in freelancing ambiance with hundreds of thousands of individuals joining freelancing platforms on a quotidian basis. Convenience in receiving hard-earned revenue for millions is a cause of concern to raise an eyebrow in order to sustain the entrance of individuals into the market and stand by the freelancers to do better.
Despite the dismal state of education in the country, Pakistan ranks fourth in the global freelance marketplace where hundreds of thousands of individuals generate money in the dollar and euro economy. It is the individual enterprise that is prevailing over official laggardness. All that is happening is despite the system, not because of it. From the quality of education to lack of facilitation for the community of freelancers, the government of Pakistan can take no credit for the massive progress made by Pakistanis in the global market.
The least the government of Pakistan — regardless of who is heading it at any given point in time — can do is to provide a hassle-free environment for freelancers to expand the scope of their activity and enlarge their footprint on the digital economy. They are based in Pakistan and every dollar they earn lands in Pakistan.
Even when the country is desperate for foreign exchange, the government is reluctant to provide the freelancers any kind of relief or facilitation. For sure, the freelance community needs government attention the most. The more dollars they would earn, the more stabilized the rupee would be.
The very cause of the devaluation of the rupee is dwindling dollar earnings. Certainly, it is sure that once a free and fair way to work is provided to freelancers, the rupee will gain strength. This is not mere talk, but a well-studied conclusion by economists across the world. Honestly, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to comprehend this simple phenomenon.
The major cause of worry for freelancers is the issues they face while receiving dollar-based payments owing to the lack of digital platforms for remittances, such as PayPal, which does not operate in Pakistan. No government in Pakistan has even tried to see what can be done in this regard. Thus, the malaise grew and reached a state untreatably.
Another headache is the rate of taxes on the earnings of freelancers. It is a digital freelance community that has been bringing in dollars, which is helping the country in a critical area, but they are being discouraged by the government. The previous government was the actual culprit as it had imposed unjustified taxes on freelance income from abroad.
The freelancers irrespective of the niche are doing mental labor for the betterment despite the miseries like transaction hurdles and skills developing facilities. Time and again these freelancers are called abroad for proper time management but the below 4th passport rank of the country compels them to stay within the country.
The government should facilitate the freelance community not just for the sake of the freelancers, but also for the sake of the national economy that badly needs foreign exchange to keep itself afloat. Historically in the economic quagmire, Pakistan needs to turn the tables in order to make the economy back on track.
Finally, the country needs to increase and improve online training platforms, like, say, DigiSkills, for further development of the freelance community. In order to diversify the scope, platforms like DigiSkills enhance the enrollment capacity and add multiple skill sets for a broader scope and workforce that eventually results in dollars coming in the country.
In an epoch of the internet and digitalization, no person must be devoid of learning and earning. The country needs to repair all the above-mentioned or needed facilities to facilitate freelancers. In this increasing anxiety of inflation, penury and the dystopian state of downtrodden masses, freelance is the best and perhaps the last option to make the lifeboat afloat since dollar earnings make the way out of misery and poverty.
We have an edge in the global space, and we should do all we possibly can not to lose it. Pakistan’s status quo reluctance to make Pakistani people more in this field is unimaginable owing to placing time and again obstacles on the road to stability and sustenance. Systemically manipulative modus operandi to the public interest and collective good interprets the elite capture of resources, bureaucracy callousness, and quid pro quo between the feudal system and self-proclaimed political gurus.
Glimpsing historical pages depicts the country a dystopia given the early dysfunctional mechanism and colonial tenets coupled with devoid of novelty in framing institutional framework. Where inconsistency remains the only consistency is what is notoriously known as Pakistan with no annus mirabilis so far in the journey of seven and a half decades now. Any hope for the future? Drop it!
With digitalization at its finest and a revolution like AI and the emergence of OpenAI and ChatGPT, Pakistan seems senseless so far. Time and again revolution coming on the surface is a new normal, thus, the people of Pakistan must realign and reimagine their future endeavors to do better for themselves. Stuck with the plethora of rhetorical subjects are destined to lead the masses in a terra incognita. Therefore, the longer we realize the system is not in our favor, the more it will cost us. Thus, better late than never.
The writer is a freelancer based in Kandhkot, Sindh. He can be reached at [email protected]