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NPO's main aim is to promote the concept of productivity in the country

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI
Islamabad

July 08 - 14, 2002

The National Productivity Organization which existed only on papers for over three decades and was restructured and reactivated as an autonomous organization by the present government only last year under the dynamic leadership of a professional from Private Sector has done commendable work during the short span of less than a year to make industry and other stakeholders productivity conscious.

The Asian Productivity Organization was established in 1961 by a convention to increase productivity in the countries of Asia and the Pacific region through mutual cooperation. Pakistan, one of the founder members of APO, assigned Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (PITAC) to perform the function of National Productivity Organization of Pakistan. PITAC served as NPO Pakistan for more than three decades. However, PITAC was unable to carry out the fundamental functions of NPO due to various constraints. The productivity move was localised in very limited geographic areas and to a limited range of industries (engineering sector). This gave rise to a dichotomous organization where priority was placed on PITAC rather than NPO. PITAC could not participate satisfactorily in the fields of management, agriculture and other sectors vital to the Pakistan's economy.

Therefore, it was felt that there is an urgent need to revitalize the NPO Pakistan and hence a revolutionary step was taken by the government of Pakistan to shift it from PITAC Lahore to a newly established organization in Islamabad with the aim to enhance its operational area by encompassing major sectors of the economy, i.e. agriculture, industry and services, thereby preparing Pakistan to meet the upcoming challenges of WTO and increasing cooperation with all international agencies.

The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) is an inter-governmental regional organization established by Convention in 1961 by several governments in Asia and the Pacific. It is non-political, non-profit making and non-discriminatory. The APO's objective is to contribute to the socio-economic development of its member countries and improvement in the quality of life of their people through productivity enhancement under the spirit of mutual cooperation among its members. The APO seeks to realize its objective through performing the roles of Think Tank, Catalyst, Regional Adviser, Institution Builder, an Clearing House of Information on Productivity.

APO membership is open to all Asian and Pacific Governments that are members of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) of the United Nations. Governments outside Asia and the Pacific may become Associate Members. Present membership comprises eighteen governments. The first signatories to the Convention in 1961 were the Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, and Thailand. They were subsequently joined by Bangladesh, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Mangolia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Pakistan however, could not benefit much from the services of APO because of our sheer neglect and lack of planning.

Mr Saquib Mohiuddin, a graduate of Harward University with a proven track record of innovative Service who has been appointed first Chief Executive of restructured NPO, in an exclusive interview for PAGE told this correspondent in his office on Monday that practically speaking the National Productivity Organization (NPO) is a relatively newly established research and resource institution, which intends to assist the Government on implementing its macro economic policies and address major issues relating to different economic sectors, development programmes and innovative strategies. NPO will work with the government of Pakistan with an emphasis to inculcate productivity and quality in every sphere of economic arena. NPO envisages to play a dual role by securing full benefits of APO membership, and establishing operational networking, and more specifically act as a national change agent by inculcating productivity consciousness.

Continuing he said that the NPO's main aim is to promote the concept of productivity in the country and implement ways and means to improve productivity in every economic sector; however, more specifically, the objectives can be balloted as follows:

Inculcate productivity consciousness through the promotion of productivity concepts.

Measure, evaluate and improve productivity of various sectors of economy.

Establish databases and dissemination systems covering all productivity issues of the economy.

Carry out research in Productivity and Quality (P&O), and establish Productivity Indices for industries.

Develop an indepth understanding and application of bench-marking in companies, thereby developing comparative data in order to encourage the implementation of best practices.

Assist government organizations and private undertakings in their efforts to establish performance standards. Act as the integrated focal point of all organizations engaged in productivity drives.

Enhance institutional capacities of SMEs in conjunction with SMEDA and other institutions.

What approach NPO has adopted to achieve these objectives.

Continuing he said the primary objective of NPO is to inculcate the productivity conscious amongst the people of Pakistan, Productivity is a very new concept even for most of the literate classes of our population. In order to make our other objectives more meaningful, it is essential that the masses understand the importance and need for productivity improvement. At this stage, NPO has chalked out a strategy to work in phases. In the first phase, following approach has been adopted;

Establishment of linkages with educational institutions, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Industry Association, Lahore Union Association in order to reach out maximum number of people at all levels, whether it is the present or the future work class of the country. Creating awareness about productivity is actually changing the mind set of the people, which I believe is a mammoth task for country like Pakistan where the overall literacy rate is approximately 30% rather 5% in real terms, if we exclude the ones who simply know how to write their names;

Since SMEs is an important sector of the economy, NPO will be focusing on strengthening approximately five clusters of SMEs in its first phase. In this regard, NPO has also collaborated with UNIDO which has conducted primary research on some clusters in Punjab and Sindh. This it will undertake by conducting workshops on productivity and quality enhancement for the SMEs and strengthening of their training institutes. "NPO is also in the process of conducting researches on economic sectors. Presently, since we have a human resource constraint, we will only be focusing on some pertinent sectors. We have already initiated research on the textile spinning where we are undertaking a benchmarking exercise, additionally, we are looking at up-gradation of the textile weaving sector (power loom), reduction of wastages in the wheat production, and reasons for the colossal losses in dairy milk produced in. These are the areas we intend to address in the first year of our operations," he added.