PAKISTAN'S Board of Investment is offering tax exemptions among other incentives to export firms that set up in Karachi's Export Processing Zone. Other than tax exemptions, the board offers customs and excise concessions, exemptions from labour laws and full profit repatriation. It also provides similar benefits for firms in specific industries that establish in Special Industrial Zones (SIZ) that are being set up in several provinces. Fiscal and other incentives in the SIZs are given to investors in electrical, electronics and engineering ventures. The BOI, which functions under the prime minister's office, promotes foreign and domestic investments, and also provides infrastructure. Tax holidays, free imports of machinery, materials and components, duty-free exports and no restrictions on the number of expatriate employees are among the many fiscal benefits allowed for projects in the export zones. According to the BOI, industries that plan to set up in the SIZs will be required to export at least 60 per cent of their annual production. If the foreign equity in a venture exceeds 51 per cent, the export requirement will apply to only half the annual production. Import licences, duties and sales taxes do not apply to manufacturers in the SIZs. Foreign investments in Pakistan are protected under the Foreign Private Investment (promotion and protection) Act of 1976. In addition, bilateral investment pacts with China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Kuwait, South Korea, Romania and Sweden have paved the way for the safeguards. Pakistan is also a signatory to the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, better known as MIGA. Pacts to avoid double taxation have been signed with south Asian states, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, European countries, including Austria, Britain and Denmark, and Southeast Asian nations, including China and Thailand. Several institutions have been set up to help investors. Among them are the Technology Advisory Centre, Technology Information Service Centre, Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Institute of Electronics, Central Testing Laboratories and Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Centre. According to the BOI, the average monthly wage of an unskilled worker is about US$50 and for a skilled worker, US$150. The BOI said although the literacy rate was only 34 per cent, those employed in the manufacturing sector were generally literate.