Staff Correspondent: The government has moved to bring freelancers under the urview of incentives or cash support against their earnings through exporting services.
The move to patronise the online workers has been taken to lure more youths into the sector to enhance foreign currency earnings.
According to the ICT Division, presently there are some 650,000 registered freelancers in the country, who earn nearly US$150 million annually.
The workforce, mainly consisting of young people, is engaged in various IT-related jobs including programming, designing, tax preparation, and search engine optimisation, among others.
The government presently provides cash incentives at the rates of up to 20 per cent to 38 sectors to encourage export earnings.
Besides, the government also gives cash incentives at the rate of 2.0 per cent to remittance earners, who send money to the country through banking channel.
The freelancers, who earn a good amount of money in foreign currency, have long been demanding cash incentives against their export earnings.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) last week formed an eight-member committee, headed by Additional Director General of Monitoring Cell Hakim Uddin, to submit a report on providing cash incentives to freelancers against their earnings from export of services. Representatives from the ICT Division, Bangladesh Bank, MoF Budget Wing, Export Promotion Bureau, and Bangladesh Computer Council are included in the committee.
A senior MoF official told that the freelancers are bringing a good amount of foreign currency by exporting various services abroad. “If we provide cash incentives against their earnings, more and more educated youths will feel encouraged to be involved in this service.”
“By this way we can lower the rate of unemployment and also raise the country’s foreign currency reserve,” he added.
Forhadul Islam Shuvo, a youth engaged in freelancing service, told that many students meet their financial needs, including educational expenses, by working as freelancers.
“After completion of study many fail to secure a job, even after spending years, and suffer from frustration. The freelancing jobs also helped thousands of unemployed youths to earn foreign currency.”
Mr Shuvo further said the freelancers are exporting service, which is also a product.
“Providing them with cash incentives will help engagement of more youths in the sector and bring higher amount of forex to the country,” he added.