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Efforts needed to tap CPEC’s potential to reverse growth decline’

Efforts needed to tap CPEC’s potential to reverse growth decline’

Staff Report

MARCH 29, 2018

LAHORE: The Lahore School of Economics (LSE) 14th annual conference on ‘Accelerating Economic Growth in Pakistan: Key Macro and Sectoral Drivers’ was inaugurated on Wednesday at its Main Burki Campus.

In addition to keynote lectures by renowned international scholars, the two-day conference will include sessions highlighting some of the most important areas of research pertinent to Pakistan’s economy. The regular sessions during the conference feature 25 papers along with commentary from distinguished economists detailing the cutting edge research centered around macroeconomic stability, poverty, CPEC, industrial strategy, role of trade, change in the financial services industry and agriculture growth in Pakistan.

In his opening remarks, LSE Rector Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry mentioned that the event would include scholarly discourse on key macro and sectoral drivers of economic growth that would generate insights on the short-run initiatives as well as structural and institutional measures designed to boost long-run economic growth in Pakistan. He remarked that the issues the conference aims to address were very relevant to the challenges confronted by Pakistan’s economy at present.

“This conference will be an important contribution to the debate over key issues faced by the country and what can be done to address these,” he said. Highlighting the conference presentations, Dr Chaudhry said that the papers on day one of the conference would provide the analytical basis for addressing burning issues faced by the country based on rigorous research on macroeconomic stability, poverty and CPEC.

He added that more concerted efforts were needed to leverage the opportunities under the CPEC by partnering in regional value chains with Chinese industries. “By instituting these first steps, the government can begin the arduous task of reversing Pakistan’s growth decline.” He stressed the need to study the 7th NFC award, 18th Amendment and foreign illegal assets and to provide recommendations on how to restructure tax amnesty, as well as how to reduce the tax leakages. “Also the elections are around the corner, and in this regard short run policies are needed to revive economic growth.”

Graduate Institute of Development Studies Director Dr Rashid Amjad began the session with his presentation on ‘Redesigning Macroeconomic Policy: Breaking out of Pakistan’s Impossible Trinity’. His research provided an explanation about the impossible trinity and challenge of maintaining a balance between the fiscal deficit, the rate of economic growth and the external account deficit. He addressed and identified policy measures needed in the short, medium and long-term for Pakistan to break out of the impossible trinity and to move to a sustainable and higher growth path.

The third session of the conference was chaired by Dr Rashid Amjad. The discussion centered on the debate that there was a long tradition of research in South Asia that had criticised large infrastructure projects funded by overseas as being incompatible with the economic development of South Asia.

Dr Sirimal Abeyrante of University of Colombo presented his work titled ‘Managing Development with Chinese Investment: The Case of Sri Lanka’. He argued that in spite of popular rhetoric, the management of the internal economic affairs with policy and regulatory reforms had been in the heart of the issue, which needed to be addressed for improving the economic and political capacity to benefit from the country’s geo-strategic advantage and emerging opportunities.

The last paper of the session and day one of the conference ‘Agriculture Development Options under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’ was presented by Mahmood Ahmad(visiting researcher at Lahore University of Management Sciences), co-authored with Sana Khalid.

The paper critically evaluated the policies and investment priorities perused in developing CPEC in general and agriculture and agro-industry in particular.

The paper also highlighted and identified a cluster of agriculture value chains in four corridor zones, especially central zone (Indus Basin) classified under CPEC project that carries good comparative advantage in producing a diversified crop mix that has not been fully exploited.

Published in Daily Times, March 29th2018


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