Lahore School of Economics

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Development Challenges in The New Decade

Sixth Annual Conference
on Management of the Pakistan Economy 
Center for Research in Economics and Business
Lahore School of Economics
April 22-23, 2010

The Lahore School of Economics is having its Sixth Annual Conference on the Management of the Pakistan Economy on the 22nd – 23rd of April, 2010 at the Lahore School main campus (on Burki Road). The theme of this year's Conference is "Development Challenges in the New Decade".

The underlying objective of the conference is to promote dialogue/discussion on key economic management and policy issues facing the country today. The inaugural speech will be made by a leading economist of Pakistan. The inaugural session will lay the foundation for the rest of the conference and it will be followed by four sessions concerning the major obstacles to sustained and inclusive growth. The topics and broad areas that will be covered in the different sessions are as follows:

Session 2 – Bridging the Provincial Divide 
The excessive centralization of resources in Pakistan has its roots in history and the institutional set-up of the country. The imbalance of power between the center and the provinces has long been a point of contention between Punjab and the other provinces. The perception of Punjab as an overpowering province underlies the grievances of the smaller provinces. Furthermore, provincial disparities in the economic and social indicators are huge and add to the trust deficit. The lack of trust amongst the provinces is at the root of the failure to adopt policies of national importance such as optimal use of water and other natural resources, or achieving consensus on issues as fundamental as revenue sharing and distribution. Papers in this session can focus on any of the issues raised above, including the allocation of resources through NFC to reduce regional disparities.

Session 3 – Addressing the Energy Crisis
Pakistan is currently facing the worst energy crisis in its history. The impact of this crisis has been multi-dimensional affecting everyone from households to industries to trade. Given the severe consequences of the energy crisis and that Pakistan experienced a similar crisis in the 1990s, it is important to understand the factors underlying these periodic crises. The analysis should aim to show how the problem can be addressed and what is the way forward for the economy? The discussion should address both demand and supply side issues as well as the energy sector’s governance and management problems.

Session 4 – Overcoming the Revenue Deficit
Currently, Pakistan’s tax-to-GDP ratio is amongst the lowest in the world. This is a chronic problem and repeated reforms to improve the situation have been tried without success. The consequence of the failure to improve tax revenue mobilization is shortages in infrastructure, inadequate investment in social sectors, inability to transfer resources to poor provinces, periodic fiscal and balance of payments crises and a persistent, excessive reliance on foreign assistance. These costs are large and dealing with this problem is almost a precondition for solving many of the other problems Pakistan is faced with today. Papers in this session should aim to discuss reasons for the failure of the past reform efforts and strategize ways of breaking out of this low level tax mobilization trap.

Session 5 – Managing the Scarce Water Resources
Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world and dependence on a single river system makes availability of water highly vulnerable. From a long term perspective Pakistan’s water resources are faced with three major challenges. These include: 1) Building a knowledge-based capacity to nurture Pakistan’s scarce water resource. 2) Maintaining, rehabilitating and expanding infrastructure for managing Pakistan’s water resource. 3) Creating a modern institutional framework that employs international best practices of water management which ensures sustainability and enhances efficiency of water use. Papers in this session may address any of the aforementioned challenges as well as suggest a future direction for managing Pakistan’s water economy.

Session 6 – Round Table Discussion: Development Challenges – Alternative Perspectives
The round table will bring together leading economists and policy makers to discuss what they think are the most important challenges facing Pakistan, including those that might not have been covered in the previous sessions. It is anticipated that this discussion will provide further insights on the development issues and policies needed to help Pakistan make the transition to a middle income country.

Related: Lahore School Fifth Annual Conference on Management of the Pakistan Economy: Growth, Trade and Development

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/14/2010 12:26:00 PM,

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