Opening and Keynote

The 3rd Annual IGC South Asia Growth Conference was organized in Lahore by IGC Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Punjab, Pakistan. The official opening ceremony was kicked off by Adnan Khan, Research Director, IGC, who mentioned that in the last few years Economics as a discipline has been moving towards determining causal relationships, which can then be fed into the policymaking process, and that the IGC is aiding this very process.

Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Government of Pakistan, delivered the keynote address. He said that IGC’s work fits in well with the work of the Planning Commission, which promotes evidence-based policymaking. He added that South Asia as a region exhibits acute socio-economic imbalances, and despite having middle-income country economic indicators, the region’s social indicators still resemble those of least developed countries. He described the government’s Vision 2020, which focuses on improving the social and human development indicators of the country. He also emphasized the need for a greater regional dialogue, especially that between India and Pakistan.

Dr. Jonathan Leape, Executive Director of the IGC, emphasized the need to devise solutions to pressing economic and social problems in a practical way. He named several examples of IGC’s work that demonstrate the organization’s commitment towards this goal. He mentioned the core focus areas of the IGC in its Phase II, which include State Effectiveness, Firm Capabilities, Cities, and Energy.

Dr. Shaibal Gupta, Country Co-Director, IGC India-Bihar, talked about the need for the growth process to be both inclusive and sustainable. He talked about the role that the IGC has played in building state capacity in Bihar. He added that going forward, the organization needed to focus on promoting greater research on inter-regional issues.

Dr. Ijaz Nabi, Country Director, IGC Pakistan, started by saying that ideas generated by the research community do bring change to the policy process, but one needed to be resilient and patient as this was a long process. He mentioned several examples of IGC’s work in Pakistan from among the 70-odd completed projects.

Dr. Asim Khwaja, Lead Academic, IGC Pakistan, said that it was an encouraging trend to see an increasing number of international researchers working on issues related to Pakistan, but in addition, the involvement of local researchers also needed to be promoted.

Dr. Naved Asim was the last speaker for the session, and he re-emphasised that to build a lasting link between research and policymaking, we need a critical mass of people who were committed to a long-term engagement with the process.

By Farria Naeem, Country Economist, IGC Bangladesh