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Punjab Planning & Development and PHEC jointly organized Consultative Session at Lahore.

25 May, 2017

Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI), Planning & Development in collaboration with the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) organized a consultative Session on Promoting policy oriented economic research in Punjab at Lahore. Chairpersons/HoDs/Deans of Department of Economics of public and private sector universities of Punjab attended the session. The main aim of the session was to solicit feedback on the promotion of policy oriented economic research in the public and private universities of Punjab.

Dr. Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry, Director (PERI) P&DD formally welcomed the guests and initiated the session by highlighting the current state of affairs of the ongoing economic research in the universities of Punjab. While basic research (done by students and faculty) is being conducted using data on Pakistan, the focus is not extended towards the provinces. Therefore, research on provincial issues is still limited and usually it has little policy implications. He said that researchers are primarily doing research on secondary data.  Keeping in view, this session was organized to help bridge the widening gap between academic research and policy oriented research in Punjab. The Director, PERI, pointed out a few policy oriented research areas that need to be explored in the context of Punjab.

Dr Mumtaz informed the audience about the role that PERI intends to play in encouraging policy oriented economic research in Punjab. For instance, PERI will try to assist the researchers in providing them with data, it will offer paid internships to PhD scholars (as per its criteria) and will be soon announcing a call for proposals specifically targeting the faculty members and PhD scholars on research needs of the government of  Punjab. He also highlighted that PERI is actively involved in organizing various capacity building workshops throughout the year and also the Punjab Economic Forum on annual basis to bring all stakeholders under one roof.

Dr. Anjum Nasim (Mahbub ul Haq Chair, GCU Lahore) stated that there is indeed a lack of coordination between the academia and the policy makers. He was of the opinion that the issue of data availability prevents researchers from conducting policy based research. Also, data collection is an expensive process and he understands that researchers are unable to carry out such activities due to budget constraints. Apart from this he was hopeful that PERI and other government departments can take an initiative and assist in providing data for research. Additionally, there need to be ways to ensure that the good research is not only acknowledged but is also implemented by the government.

Ms. Zia Batool, DG Quatlity Assurance (PHEC) was optimistic about the consultative session and hoped that the discussion will help the PHEC and PERI in developing a way forward. She thanked the guests for their participation and also announced that PHEC plans to continue organizing such collaborative sessions so that the perspective of all the stakeholders in research and policy making is taken into account.

The consultative session was very fruitful with majority participants offering practical recommendations to help bridge the gap between the researchers and the policymakers. Most of them were of the view that there needs to be an integrated system in place wherein the current and future economic affairs of Punjab can be made known to the academia. This way the researchers will be aligned with the research needs of the government. Secondly, it was suggested that students should be compensated with credit hours for digitalizing data that exists in hard form. This will incentivize students and facilitate future research. Also, PERI’s research analysts need to develop media relationships and prescribe policies through the media platforms. In addition to this, there is a need to focus on interdisciplinary research where faculty from different specializations work together. There should be a liaison between researchers, industry and policymakers in order to conduct applied research. Furthermore, proposals which have inter university linkages should be encouraged so that capacity building of universities is done. Lastly, PERI and government line departments should introduce an e-portal wherein policy oriented research questions are put up to encourage research amongst academia. In addition to this, profile of researchers working on various issues of policy relevance should be uploaded on this portal.

The session concluded with the participants jointly voicing the need for interaction between the academia and the policymakers. As they believed that the academia is not fully aware of the needs of the government and hence sessions (or conferences) need to be organized to bring together both the policymakers and the academia. Also, specialized conferences can also be arranged where only policy oriented research will be presented. This way the efforts of the researcher will be acknowledged and the policymakers will also benefit from the research findings.