State of Technology and Productivity in Pakistan’s Manufacturing Industries: Some Strategic Directions to Build Technological Competence

Publication Year : 2000

Historically, Pakistan’s economic growth record, especially of the manufacturing sector, has been quite satisfactory. However, since the late 1980s Pakistan has been facing a slow growth of manufacturing industries, particularly of the large-scale manufacturing units. This has led some economists to express the apprehension that perhaps de-industrialisation is taking place in the country. A careful analysis of the causes of this sluggish growth suggests that one of the main contributory factors is the slow growth in total factor productivity (TFP)—the best overall measure of competitiveness. What has caused this productivity slow-down? For Pakistan there is clear evidence of a relationship between the growth in total factor productivity and the ailing S & T apparatus. The results presented in the study also lend support to the hypothesis that knowledge capital, human capital, openness, and government policies are crucial determinants of total factor productivity growth. Given a liberal economic environment in the country, which is essential to improve efficiency and productivity, the paper offers four strategic directions in order to improve the status of the S & T system in Pakistan: (1) augment the public sector S & T apparatus with the private sector funding and oversight; (2) take measures to upgrade scientific research institutions to the international standard; (3) streamline the technology creation, absorption, and diffusion system; and (4) enhance the demand for S & T in industries. These strategic directions are designed in such a manner that they work together towards a series of phased reforms, which can create incentives and market-based mechanisms to enhance the technology system without relying on a radical shift in the governance element of the bureaucracy.