Dec 17 - 30, 2007

Research is a misunderstood subject in Pakistan. Data collection, compilation and transcription of datum in a consolidated shape is something else than primary research. Conversely primary research means a new idea which has never come upfront before; an innovation. It is rather applied research that takes assistance of inferences. This misunderstanding is very dangerous prevailed in universities and local industries. These opinions were expressed by Dr. Ayub Mehar, Director General Research & Development, The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry in an interview with PAGE. When asked of the state of industrial research and development in Pakistan, he replied, there is a dire need to change the local perception of corporations and higher learning institutes about research and to remove stereotypical concept of research out of society. MNCs realize its importance but ironically none of them have locally operated R&D department, Dr. Ayub stated. They have finance and different others departments in host country however they restrict R&D activities only to their home countries. What outcomes they come up with henceforth stand far a pole to on-ground issues.

It is a worldwide acknowledged fact that research could not take place on various plate forms. Neither establishment of numerous research centres is prudent. On the contrary designated centres can be delegated primary research functions and networked to organizations and trade associations. Coordination is very important to exchange updates being emerged on economic fronts. Since substantial capital is required to undertake research works in our country financial synergy can lessen burden of high budgets. It should be considered as capital investment instead of expenditure, Dr. Ayub remarked.

Dr. Mehar had been performing educational responsibilities in Institute of Business & Technology as Dean Management Sciences. He has a laurel to publish a journal on social sciences of international repute during his working as dean. Contributing his erudite expertises on economics over the years he was associated with Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Karachi Stock Exchange, and Applied Economics department of University of Karachi as project economist. His works on economic issues are published in international journals. With considerable experience as academician and practical economist, Dr. Ayub has joined R&D wing of FPCCI to invest his stint dedicatedly in promoting real research culture in the nation for economic prosperity. Previously research works in FPCCI were carried forward on limited scale. But as soon as it has been realized that privatization has augmented the role of private sectors in economic wheeling and dealing, the scope of activities of the department consequently increased. Federation House is a sole representative apex body of trade associations of Pakistan. It has about 48 members associations (chambers of commerce) across Pakistan. Globalization has dawned on a new era of trade affairs. According to erstwhile model structure policies of Economic Planning Commission, State Bank of Pakistan and different other government's institutes lagged behind in effective participation of private sector. Therefore, full fledged apex body came into being to bridge the gap between private sectors and government policy makers. For this an independent economic research wing has also been established in FPCCI to conduct researches on various economic aspects of the country. R&D wing of federation house has right now three economists, a data bank, and a reference library. This apex body is funded by Ministry of Commerce, GoP. The aims of FPCCI in general are to devise macro economic policies and to sketch out plans on macro level. According to Dr. Ayub government allocated Rs.19 million fund to research and development wing for the year. The entire amount is to spend on activities related to research and economic trend studies. R&D wing is in the process of designing the first macro economic model of Pakistan.

Macro Economic Model: Dr. Ayub said so far there was no such model available in the country. The indicators to gauge economic progress have been index of bourse or growth rate of GDP. There is no as such hard and fast rule or formula to determine economic moves. Indices of exchanges depict only fluctuations recorded in stocks of particular scrip rather than glances of economy as a whole, he added. There are independent and isolated business indices in practice in abroad to portray interdependent but stand-alone facets of economy. Informing about such continuum, Dr. Ayub said R&D is engineering an index comprising of fourteen indicators including export growth, employment, capacity utilization, and so on and so forth. By analysing the combined index, he said, a clear picture of economic progress would be brought forward in well and authentic manner. Although the idea to develop the model is inspired it would feature ground realities. Throughout the world higher learning institutes are used to conduct primary researches. Industries finance such researches in the universities. Gone are the days when natural resources were enumerated as strength of the national economy. Then manufacturing and industrialization started giving competitive advantage to an economy over other. Later service based sectors galloped in major share of world trade. But now situation has been changed; a maiden concept of knowledge-based economy has been developed across the globe. The proportion of knowledge-based products in international trade has risen to 70 percent while merely 30 percent being contributed by manufacturing, services, and agriculture sectors aggregately, Dr. Ayub revealed. Ubiquitous brand wars have already been kick started to stir up countries to develop noble ideas and instill innovativeness in goods and services. The future belongs to those who broach upon a venture to initiate capturing market share, he said. As a nascent step industry finances projects in universities and gets them commercialized when projects succeeded in final form. Unfortunately in Pakistan the link of industry and university is completely missing, Dr. Ayub lamented. To strengthen the linkage is the prominent strategy enlisted in planning 2008 of federation house with a slogan viz. to develop a knowledge based economy.

Pakistan's textile industry is the fourth largest in the world. Due to the deficiency in marketing results have not been inasmuch effective. To promote research and development in export based products government planned to subsidize exports so that competitive ideas can come forward to match international market needs. Government should give more incentives to encourage research regime.