Country Session 3: Pakistan

The Pakistan country session at Growth Week 2012 was chaired by Ijaz Nabi (IGC), and addressed by Honourable Finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as the key-note speaker. Shaikh highlighted that Pakistan’s economy is currently undergoing a transition allowing policy makers to take corrective measures to achieve Pakistan’s growth potential. He reviewed the past challenges that prevented growth spurts from being converted into sustained high growth over longer periods of time. He then outlined developments that are helping address those challenges, emphasizing the importance of democratic transition, strengthening of institutions, and progress on macroeconomic stabilization. He pointed out initiatives to strengthen state capabilities and international competitiveness to achieve high growth, linking them to on-going IGC work for sustained high growth in Pakistan. A large number of international researchers in the audience appreciated in particular the minister’s candour in acknowledging the challenges that remain to be addressed specially in the energy and power sector.

The session was divided under two sub themes: governance and firm capabilities. The first presentation under the governance theme was on the use of ICT to improve governance in the health sector in the Punjab. Michael Callen (UCSD/UCLA) presented early evidence of increase in supervisory visits to basic health units in the Punjab, due to the use of android cell phones. He discussed several factors, such as political connections, affecting the performance of supervisory officers. The second presentation under the same theme was on improving efficiency in public procurement. The presentation was made by Oriana Bandiera (LSE), describing the existing procurement patterns at the provincial level. She discussed the main challenges intrinsic in the procurement systems. She also outlined the various interventions being designed by research team to address issues of wastage and inefficiency.

The next presentation was under the firms capabilities theme by Theresa Chaudhry (Lahore School of Economics) on incentives schemes to improve worker attendance in the fan industry in Pakistan. She discussed the impact of tenure and social network on the response to incentives. The last presentation was by Eric Verhoogen (Columbia) on dispersion of technology in export oriented soccer ball firms. He discussed early results from his experiment in Sialkot, drawing policy lessons from baseline and follow up surveys of soccer ball manufacturers. The session was wrapped up by Resident Country Director, Naved Hamid (IGC). He appreciated the diversity of research and its linkages with the public sector, making IGC a unique platform to engage in policy oriented research. In the end, the Finance Minister concluded the session, pointing out ways of bringing out policy relevance of the research discussed in the session.