Talk by Stefan Dercon Chief Economist DFID at PIDE

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Professor Stefan Dercon addressed a seminar today at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) on the Economic Transformation in Pakistan. Dercon is a Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford. The seminar was organized by the CPEC centre of excellence as part of their engagement initiative to build a dialogue on various aspects of economy in Pakistan.

The federal secretary Planning, Development & Reforms Ministry Shoaib Siddiqui stated that nations build their own destiny by working hard to achieve their targets. He expressed a sense of optimism in the economic prospects of Pakistan and said that the country has already begun its journey towards the path to development. He thanked PIDE for their work and stressed the need for this type of dialogue and for research so that economic corridors can translate into socioeconomic growth.

While commenting on the growth indicators of Pakistan, Dercon said that the Pakistan has a huge potential for growth. He suggested that the private sector will lead the road to development with support from the government of Pakistan. He was also impressed by the optimistic surge in the social sector of Pakistan.

Dercon has an interest in applying microeconomics and statistics to problems of development and also consults with DFID as their chief economist. During the seminar, he talked at length about the assessment of Pakistan`s economic issues and offered advice for a robust economic development for Pakistan.

While talking to the audience, Dercon stressed on the need for inclusive development in Pakistan and offered the ingredients for success for a developing economy like Pakistan. These ingredients include a vibrant private sector growth to absorb job seekers and a well-functioning social sector as a pre-requisite to development. This involves an outcome oriented industry encouraged by dialogue and discussion around economic prospects.

Dercon further said, “Sustained growth and development requires not just hard infrastructure, but also the appropriate ‘soft’ infrastructure. One precondition is peace and stability: without this, no investor will invest for the long-term. The economy would benefit tremendously from peace with neighbours – it would open up untold economic investment and trade opportunities.”

Speaking about the need for structural change in the economy, Dercon said that Pakistan has a strong potential, high quality resources and an excellent strategic location but it will only climb the product ladder by investing in soft infrastructure. While he expressed confidence in the infrastructure development in Pakistan, he suggested a parallel model of investing in the social sector to actually reap the results.

Lastly, he commented on the concept of historical context as an important element while determining the development framework. Pakistan wants to grow and replicate the South East Asian economies, but it should rather adapt to its own historical content and follow its own unique economic model to reap results.

Responding to a question, he said that peace within the region and an increased interconnectivity is indeed the road to development while the government must also focus on investing in the soft infrastructure.

Dr Shahid Rashid, the Executive Director CPEC Centre of Excellence, also commented on the subject by saying that the centre is working extensively to encourage dialogue between the government and stakeholders. He further added that input from independent analysts and internationally renowned economists is quite useful for the economy of Pakistan.

Vice Chancellor Asad Zaman concluded the event by adding a few of his own insights on the economic transformation in Pakistan. He suggested that Pakistan must also focus on character building of the citizens alongside ensuring inclusive development. He argued that ensuring growth will further lead towards an improvement in human index indicators which will pave way for holistic development in Pakistan.

The seminar was attended by Joanna Reid DFID Head Pakistan amongst other representatives from Planning Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Affairs Division and Higher Education Commission amongst others.

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