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Punjab Planning & Development hosted a consultative session on How to make Punjab’s Cities more Competitive at lahore.

20 Oct, 2017

Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI), Planning & Development Department in collaboration with The Urban Unit organized a seminar on “How to make Punjab’s Cities more Competitive” held at local hotel Lahore. Dr. Nasir Javed CEO, The Urban Unit, Dr. Qaiser Bengali eminent Economist, Dr. Shujaat Ali Ex-Federal Secretary Statistics Division and Muhammad Naveed Iftikhar  Public Policy Practitioner participated in discussion panel. The seminar focused on how the rapid increase of the population growth in Pakistan, as indicated by the recent Census 2017, has brought to light the need for cities to become more competitive by providing decent livelihoods to the residents as well improving the quality of life in the urban areas.


Senior government officials, chairpersons of various universities, economists, academicians, journalists, and representatives from social organizations attended the session.

While opening the session Dr. Mumtaz Anwar Director, PERI informed the participants about the efforts being made by PERI in bringing together the academicians, practitioners and government officials to discuss policy matters. And it is for this purpose that today’s seminar has been organized. He highlighted the importance of urban planning by discussing as to how unrestricted rural-urban migration coupled with high growth rates of population of the country is likely to result in the pressure on the limited resources of our urban centers to become unsustainable. He was of the view that the high percentage of young population of the country is an asset who need to be facilitated them by providing them adequate job opportunities, skills training and high-quality education. With the unplanned urbanization making it difficult for this to happen, evidence-based policy research is required to find mechanisms for tackling these problems. He hoped that today’s seminar will give an insight into measures that could be adopted and formulate a well-designed urban policy and planning.

The seminar was fruitful with the speakers explaining in detail the consequences of the rapid urbanization. It was agreed that currently, the economic situation of the country is such wherein jobs in the agriculture and the manufacturing sector are far less than desired. With the Census 2017 predicting a higher rate of urbanization in the future, it has become crucial to make cities more competitive by providing decent jobs to the youth (which makes for a bulk of the country’s population), improve the quality of life of the citizens and in turn make cities an engine of growth and prosperity.

Dr. Nasir Javed CEO The Urban Unit stressed on the need for the efficient use of land upon which economic activities can be generated. Consequently, enhancing the productivity of the cities. He was of the view that in today’s era of globalization more than countries, now cities have become competitive and it is time that we accept this reality and work on policies accordingly. Taking the discussion forward, Dr. Qaiser Bengali talked about how cities within Pakistan should be working towards reducing transaction costs. That is, cities need to provide collective services as transport inefficiency also cause a drop in labour productivity. Moreover,  Muhammad Naveed Iftikhar stated that the confluence of rise in youth population and increase in urbanization is going to shape the future of Pakistan. However, there is very little research and dialogue on making the cities more competitive. He cited examples of other countries which have been successful in making urban areas a conducive environment for economic and social prosperity. Dr. Shujaat Ali, in his concluding remarks, commented on the lack of economics’ approach in the process of the designing and implementing of public policy. He was of the opinion that economic analysis is integral to devising a concrete policy with respect to public governance in general, and urban planning, more particularly urban housing management. The seminar concluded with urging the policy makers to use these international best practices and customize their policies to suit our local needs. It was also recommended that a culture of entrepreneurship be developed so as to boost economic activity in the country. Increased efforts to establish public-private partnerships was also advocated.