Welcome Address

Dr. Ijaz Nabi made the opening remarks at the welcome address of the 3rd Annual IGC South Asia Growth Conference. He extended a warm welcome to the participants of the conference and acknowledged that hosting the event in Lahore was made possible by the generous logistic and administrative support offered by the Government of Punjab to IGC Pakistan.

Dr Jonathan Leape introduced the International Growth Centre (IGC) as an independent research consortium which aims to promote sustainable growth in developing countries by providing evidence based policy advice based on frontier research. Based at London School of Economics and Political Science and the Oxford University, the IGC is funded by Department for International Development (DFID), UK. The IGC operates country programmes in 14 countries in Africa and South Asia region. In its second phase of operation, beginning last year, the IGC has shaped its research focus in the areas of State Effectiveness, Firm Capabilities, Cities and Energy; these areas have been widely recognized as very pertinent to growth issues in South Asia region as a whole and particularly to those faced in Pakistan.

Professor Asim Khawaja reflected that events like the IGC South Asia Growth Conference 2014 brings together top researchers, experts and policymakers together and it provides an excellent opportunity to explore ways in which evidence based research can be successfully incorporated to growth policy. IGC aims to introduce new ideas and fill the knowledge the gaps through rigorous investigation and for effective and systematic uptake of these evidence based research to policy, close collaboration between researchers and policymakers from the outset is crucial. Professor Benjamin Olken shared the experience of how evidence from evaluation of anti-poverty pilot initiatives through randomised control trials in Pakistan and Indonesia have guided the scale up of the interventions and underscored the success of evidence based research to policy linkage.

Dr. Shaibal Gupta underscored that the very close social and cultural ties amongst the countries in the South Asia region must be tapped to further stimulate economic integration in the region which in turn will boost economic growth of the region.

Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, Honourable Chief Minister of Punjab extended the support of the government to engage in dialogue and work in tandem with researchers to initiate reforms to enhance economic growth and equity. The government of Pakistan has taken a number of initiatives in areas such as agriculture, education, health, manufacturing sector and energy in order to spur efficiency and competitiveness of the economy with the aim to embark on a sustainable and equitable growth trajectory.

By Abhimanyu Gahlaut, Country Economist, IGC India-Bihar