Islamabad - Islamabad has been ranked the most competitive city of Pakistan by a policy research think tank.

These findings were reached by Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) and made public in a report titled “Metropolitan Competitiveness Index: Cities as Drivers of growth” which was launched at the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industries on Thursday. The report measures competitiveness between the four provincial capitals and the federal capital.

President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Shiekh Amir Waheed, said that cities are playing a vital role in driving the economies of many countries. He said that the government should look towards enhancing critical infrastructure and governance with the urban centers of Pakistan, to create the greatest impact in productivity and growth. He lauded PRIME’s efforts, saying the Islamabad-based think tank is playing a critical role in providing advice and analysis to the government and civil society. The other cities measured were Lahore ranked at 2nd, Karachi 3rd, Peshawar 4th and Quetta 5th. The report presents an informed comparative analysis of the competitiveness of Pakistani cities with quantitative city-based data.

Director PRIME Institute Zia Banday said that Pakistan’s cities can play a critical role in combating poverty, but the government must work to generate data at the local level. He said that the chambers of commerce in all cities of country had undoubtedly the most important part to play in the development and improvement of metropolitan competitiveness. Banday said that by next year, the metropolitan competitiveness index would expand its scope to compare even more cities from Pakistan.

According to one of the co-authors of the report, Ms Aniqa Arshad, three pillars were chosen to identify competitiveness of the cities including Economic Dynamism, Infrastructure Efficiency and Livability Aspects. She shared that a total of 41 indicators were measured. The main objective of the report is to collect, compile and update information and data at the local level from Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi to create the Metropolitan Competitiveness Index (MCI) for each. In order to capture the perceptions regarding competitiveness, the study also presents findings of consultations arranged in each city and compares these perceptions to the MCI based on factual data. People from private sector, academia, local government and civil society participated in these talks.

Islamabad is ranked 1st in economic dynamism, infrastructure efficiency and liveability aspects. The index value for Islamabad is much higher as compared to that of other cities. In ‘Economic Dynamism’, Islamabad is ranked 1st, Lahore 2nd, Karachi 3rd, Peshawar 4th and Quetta 5th. In ‘Infrastructure Efficiency’, Islamabad is ranked 1st, Quetta 2nd, Lahore 3rd, Karachi 4th and Peshawar 5th. In ‘Livability Aspects’, Islamabad is ranked 1st, Karachi 2nd, Quetta 3rd, Peshawar 4th and Lahore 5th. According to the report, Pakistan’s population is expected to reach 230 million, from today’s 208 million, by 2030.  The share of urban population will increase from 36 percent (2017) to 46.6 percent (2030). Seventeen cities have population of more than one million. Urbanization has the potential to drive productivity, with cities as engines of growth. Cities create opportunities and play a key role in creating jobs, enhancing market competition and improving liveability. If they are managed poorly they may become centres of disease, crime, and despair, said the report.

Addressing the ceremony, Ms. Ayesha Bilal, Chief Operating Officer of PRIME said that cities were becoming drivers of growth in the world and there was a greater need to highlight the competitiveness of Pakistani cities.

She said that PRIME has focused on federal and provincial capitals in its initial research report while in the next phase, 6 more cities would be covered for such research study.

Zia Banday, Director, Prime said that China achieved phenomenal economic growth by focusing on cities and stressed that Pakistan should also follow Chinese model. He hoped that this research-based index would help the policymakers in devising better plans for the development of cities. Ms. Aniqa Arshad, Research Fellow of PRIME gave a detailed presentation on the Metropolitan Competitiveness Index of Prime.

Sheikh Amir Waheed, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry in his welcome address lauded the efforts of PRIME for launching the report as it would provide better guidelines to the current and incoming government for better planning of cities’ development. He said according to a research study of McKinsey Global Institute, 600 major cities of the world accounted for 60 percent of global GDP which showed that the role of cities was very important in the economic development of a country. He said according to a UN report, cities were playing a vital role in the growth of GDP and were providing better opportunities to the people for uplifting their living standards.