Today's Paper | May 26, 2024

Published 20 Apr, 2024 06:10am

Pakistan needs to change investment priorities

LAHORE: Pakistan needs to change its investment priorities to focus on delivering education, health and jobs to its people beside developing a coherent industrial strategy combined with structural reforms to increase exports.

These were concluding remarks made at the second day of the annual conference by the Lahore School of Economics on “Management of the Pakistan Economy” which focused on issues of innovation, female employment, skills development of workers and Pakistani trade.

Dr Rabia Arif of the LSE looked at how innovation in the textile sector, the light engineering sector and the automotive sector differs. She found that most of the textile manufacturers surveyed were exporters engaged in product innovation to increase revenues and decrease costs.

In the light engineering sector, firms engage in process and marketing innovations but this leads to higher costs and lower revenues. In the automotive sector, larger firms engage in product and marketing innovations to increase their revenues.

“The results showed that innovation in the textile sector, which is an export-intensive sector, tend to be different from innovations in the light engineering and automotive sectors which mostly cater to the domestic market,” she said.

Dr. Hamna Ahmed and Zunia Tirmazee of the Lahore School of Economics and Rebecca Wu of the University of Chicago discussed the impact of a training initiative by the Punjab Skills Development Fund which focused on providing access to online training courses for workers in rural and urban Punjab. They found that workers who had completed online training courses transitioned into work more than those who did not, and also gained more income after completing the courses.

Dr Zunia Saif Tirmazee of LSE and Sakina Shibuya from the University of Wisconsin discussed the factors that may hinder firms from hiring women. They looked at the impact of social norms as well as economic factors like the cost of transportation for women and the cost of training for women in firms.LSE Rector Dr. Shahid Amjad Chaudhry concluded the moot with a discussion of how the dramatic fall in Pakistan’s growth rate, with almost zero per cent growth last year and an expected growth of only two per cent this year, has led to an increase in poverty and how transfers to low income households through programmes like the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) must be significantly increased to help lower income households.

He also discussed how the provinces must take the lead role in development and economic growth, by investing in health and education and increasing productivity.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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