ISLAMABAD - The Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (Prime), with the support of Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and in collaboration with Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), organised a consultative session on developing a Municipal Competitiveness Index in Islamabad and four provincial capitals.

The session was aimed at holding a vibrant discussion on how to optimise the existing strengths of the cities to attract investment and enhance their role in the GDP growth of the country.

Sheikh Amir Waheed, President ICCI, said that well planned and well developed cities were making significant contribution to the GDP growth of their respective countries. He said London accounted for almost half of Britain’s GDP while Boston, New York, Washington and Los Angeles accounted for one third of USA’s GDP and urged that Pakistan should also focus on developing its major cities on modern lines to convert them into engine of economic growth . He said better development of cities would attract more investment, promote industrialization, generate employment and make them hub of economic activities.

He emphasized that drastic measures should be taken to improve the infrastructure in commercial and industrial areas of Islamabad to spur the growth of local economy. He said that government should also cooperate in establishing small and cottage industries in rural areas of Islamabad that would help in uplifting the living standards of rural people and improving economic growth as well. He assured that ICCI would fully cooperate in efforts aimed at making the federal capital economically vibrant city.

Ayesha Bilal, Chief Executive Officer and Zia Banday Research Fellow of Prime, informed that after extensive research, Prime would publish a comprehensive “Metropolitan Competitiveness Index”. They said many good models for cities development were available and there was a need to synergize public-private sectors efforts for optimum exploitation of cities’ existing potential and develop them on modern lines so that they could contribute more effectively to the country’s GDP growth .

The participants were of the view local civic bodies should make serious efforts to improve infrastructure in markets and industrial areas in order to facilitate the growth of business and industrial activities. They said a new industrial zone was direly needed in Islamabad to promote industrialization and employment in the region.

It was highlighted that there was no authentic information available about GDP of Islamabad, its potential areas for investment, import/export figures and it was emphasized that the relevant government authorities should ensure availability of such information to facilitate the potential investors.