LAHORE - Punjab Planning & Development Department in collaboration with the World Bank Group hosted the launch release of new flagship South Asia competitiveness report “South Asia’s Turn: Policies to Boost Competitiveness and Create the Next Export Powerhouse.”

The report highlighted productivity of firms in Pakistan and the rest of South Asia as the only sustainable way to improve competitiveness of the provincial and national economy. While addressing the ceremony, Punjab P&D Secretary Iftikhar Ali Sahoo informed the participants that the Punjab government has already embarked upon ease of doing business reform agenda and has launched “Punjab Jobs and Competitiveness Programme,” which aims to create favorable conditions for doing business initiatives for local firms leveraging public private dialogue while ensuring reforms are in line with expectations of key stakeholders from the industries.

Industries, Commerce and Investment Secretary Dr Mujtaba Piracha highlighted that the challenge is not just restricted to policy change, but to reform the mindset to permeate all the way to human resources. It was emphasized that the private sector should play a key role and collaborate with public sector companies. The report also calls for helping firms in Punjab to innovate and improve their managerial capabilities and use new technology enhance connectivity with customers and suppliers for boosting competitiveness.

“Firms in Punjab and Pakistan have a significant untapped potential in raising productivity through development of urban ecosystems providing thick markets for skilled labour, large tracts of industrial land and world class logistics,” said Vincent Palmade, lead economist and one of the report’s co-authors.

According to the report, firms gain significant productivity benefits from being located in areas which exhibits diversity of workers, suppliers, and customers. With the right set of productivity-enhancing policies, firms in Punjab will do well in increasing their market share in the region as well as globally.

Representatives of private sector, academia and the government departments attended the ceremony, while LCCI former President Sohail Lashari and Dr Khurram Anwar Khawaja - leading exporter from Sialkot - also participated in the panel discussion.