Day 1: Country Session – Pakistan

The Pakistan Country Session at the annual Growth Week was chaired by Dr. Ijaz Nabi, the country director for IGC Pakistan. The first presentation was made by Dr Ehsan Choudhri (Carelton University) on his work on monetary policy with the State Bank of Pakistan. The study examined the role of credit markets and foreign exchange in influencing the effectiveness of monetary policy in Pakistan. He shared the DSGE model, customized to findings from Pakistan that was developed to improve financial forecasting at the State Bank. The important policy conclusions were that interest rate changes have a weaker impact on inflation and output gap and that the ability of the State Bank to control inflation can be improved considerably if fiscal policy focuses on debt control.

The second presentation was made by Dr Ali Hasanain (Oxford University) on the relationship between personalities, job performance and responses to experimental policy changes in Punjab. They used (i) Big Five personality and Perry Public Sector Motivation tests of health inspectors, senior health officials and doctors; (ii) measures of job performance from unannounced visits to health facilities; (iii) a randomized evaluation of smart phone monitoring technology; (iv) experimental manipulations of the presentation of data on doctor absence to senior health officials, to test various hypothesis. The key findings of this research have been that personalities predict doctor attendance and whether they collude to falsify results. Smartphone monitoring has the largest impact on health inspectors with high Big Five characteristics. Senior health officials with high Big Five characteristics are also more likely to respond to underperforming facilities by compelling better subsequent staff attendance.

The next presentation was made by Professor Asim Khwaja (Harvard University) on merit based transfers and postings. He spoke about his previous project with the IGC on property tax that tested incentives for tax inspectors and its impact on tax collection. The current project replaced monetary rewards with placements in certain locations based on the premise that both pecuniary and non-pecuniary (promotions, social recognition, non-monetizable benefits) incentive mechanisms are essential for an optimal HR policy. The speaker however mentioned several challenges to introducing a merit based transfers and postings system. The project is still on-going in collaboration with the Department of Excise & Taxation to answer two key questions: can merit based transfers and postings be an effective and feasible way to incentivize and what would be the best mechanism to allocate staff geographically.

The final presentation was made by Dr Theresa Chaudhry (Lahore School of Economics) on a project that studies the performance of the garments industry in Pakistan vis-a-vis Bangladesh. The work presented the design and motivation of the study that builds on work already done on garments by Rocco Macchiavello in Bangladesh. The presenter and her team intends to undertake an international productivity benchmarking and highlighted that so far data collection from 7 factories had been completed and a supervisor survey was currently being conducted in the field.

By Hina Shaikh, Country Economist, IGC Pakistan