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February 17, 2018

Govt has failed to reap benefit of $60b CPEC

National

February 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The government has failed to strengthen institutional mechanism for reaping the benefits of much trumpeted $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as its main policy think tank--Centre of Excellence (COE) for CPEC--has now been supervised by one Grade 19 officer as Executive Director (ED) who was brought on deputation from the National Defense Complex (NDC).

The Centre has been assigned to come up with evidence based research on complex economic and social issues attached with this fate changer, CPEC. Without proper homework and placing institutional mechanism, it will remain only dream that the CPEC can change our fate and destiny.

The Executive Director of the COE for CPEC Dr Shahid Rashid had attained a doctoral degree from Loughborough University, UK, in 2009 with specialisation in the field of Supply Chain Management. He did master’s in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. He possessed experience of around 17 years for affiliating with the NDC into Grade 10 of SPS (Special Pay Scales) which is equivalent to BPS-19. He was brought into CPEC Project into Planning Commission where he had worked for a few months after which he was appointed as ED into Centre of Excellence for CPEC.

The Planning Commission, which is the parent ministry of the COE for CPEC, and its high-ups have even shown dissatisfaction over the performance of this policy tank in their internal deliberations which have so far largely remained unable to perform in accordance with its assigned task. Currently, there has been no one within the fold of COE for CPEC having PhD in Finance and other macroeconomics related issues.

The COE for CPEC was conceived in shape of project with estimated cost of Rs1, 215.128 million for five years period starting from January 2016 to 2020. This scribe had raised this question in a press briefing arranged by the COE for CPEC at PIDE recently in which, I got reply that two PhD economists, working on macroeconomic issues, were affiliated with our Centre.

When checked by this scribe, it was found that there was no economist working on macro issues was currently affiliated with the Centre. When this scribe contacted to official spokesman of the Planning Commission, he provided a list of economists affiliated with the COE for CPEC.

In the list one name was of Dr Talat Anwar, who has been affiliated with PIDE and currently supervising work at Centre as additional charge. In the provided list of officials with degree of economics, there are 14 officials in which Dr Amir Khan possessed PhD in Urban and Regional Development, Ahsan Abbass PhD in progress, Saira Ali PhD Management Sciences (enrolled), and all others included in the list none of them had completed PhD degree in Economics. Some of them were enrolled for M Phil or PhD, but none of them had completed its degree.

According to PC-1 of the COE for CPEC, the main objective is to state of the art Centre of Excellence for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CE-CPEC) as a joint initiative of M/o Planning, Development and Reform and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). However, the specific objectives of the project are to set up Research-based, Independent Policy Think Tank on CPEC.

The Centre would start with research Divisions, including Chinese Investment, Sectoral Development in Pakistan and Integration with Chinese market, (ii) Economic Governance policies, practices and capacity issues of CPEC, (iii) Chinese Economy, (iv) Socio- Economic & Macroeconomic Impacts of CPEC, (v) regional connectivity and emerging economic geographies in Pakistan and in the region. In writing, the PC-1 envisages that more divisions could be added later, if required.

The PC-1 further states that during third year of project execution, efforts will be made to shift the project to self sustainable mode. For such purpose an Endowment Fund of Rs500.00 million will be established as provisioned in the PC-I. Necessary documentation, Bylaws of the Fund will be prepared / formulated by the project team in consultation with PIDE and M/o PD&R.

Possibilities will be explored to further enhance the volume of the Endowment Fund with the help of the development partners.

This scribe contacted Dr Shahid Rashid for seeking comments on Friday, he said that they were in the process of hiring PhD economists and advertisement published in this regard. He said that one PhD in economics had left the organisation. He further said that Dr Talat Anwar was part of PIDE and currently assisting Centre on Finance and other issues.

He said that he possessed relevant experience to undertake research and added that they had completed research on 18 papers. “We have provided grants to 107 researchers from different parts of the country in order to enrich research on CPEC and ensuring preparation of the country,” he added.

To another query regarding ED post in Grades 21/22 while his Grade was 19, he said that his Grade in SPS stood at 10 which was equivalent to higher than Grade 19 but claimed in the same breath that the job criteria envisaged in PC-1 imposed restriction on age limit of 58 years but there was no bar for hiring below grade officer on the post of ED. He hoped that nothing would be written against him because it diverted their attention towards explaining things at different forums instead of focusing on our primary assignments.

However, official sources in the Planning Commission argued that there was need to conduct third party independent analysis on utilising taxpayers’ money to gauge the performance of Centre and its findings must be made public to unearth factual position on the ground whether it was conducting evidence based relevant research for supporting the Planning Commission to achieve the benefits of CPEC, or it was just wasting money for providing jobs to like ones.

Mehtab Haider

ISLAMABAD: The government has failed to strengthen institutional mechanism for reaping the benefits of much trumpeted $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as its main policy think tank-- Center of Excellence (COE) for CPEC---has now been supervised by one grade 19 officer as Executive Director (ED) who was brought on deputation from National Defense Complex (NDC).

The Center has been assigned to come up with evidence based research on complex economic and social issues attached with this fate changer CPEC. Without proper homework and placing institutional mechanism, it will remain only dream that the CPEC can change our fate and destiny.

The Executive Director of COE for CPEC Dr Shahid Rashid had attained a Doctoral degree from Loughborough University, UK in 2009 with specialization in the field of Supply Chain Management. He did masters in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. He possessed experience of around 17 years for affiliating with NDC into grade 10 of SPS (Special Pay Scales) which is equivalent to BPS-19. He was brought into CPEC Project into Planning Commission where he had worked for few months after which he was appointed as ED into Center of Excellence for CPEC.

The Planning Commission, which is the parent ministry of COE for CPEC, and its high-ups have even shown dissatisfaction over the performance of this policy tank in their internal deliberations which have so far largely remained unable to perform in accordance with its assigned task.

Currently, there has been no one within the fold of COE for CPEC having PhD in Finance and other macroeconomics related issues.

The COE for CPEC was conceived in shape of project with estimated cost of Rs 1215.128 million for five years period starting from January 2016 to 2020. This scribe had raised this question in a press briefing arranged by COE for CPEC at PIDE recently in which he got reply that two PhD economists working on macroeconomic issues were affiliated with our Center.

When checked by this scribe, it was found that there was no economist working on macro issues was currently affiliated with the Center.

When this scribe contacted to official spokesman of Planning Commission, he provided a list of economists affiliated with the COE for CPEC.

In the list one name was of Dr Talat Anwar who has been affiliated with PIDE and currently supervising work at Center as additional charge.

In the provided list of officials with degree of Economics, there are 14 officials in which Dr Amir Khan possessed PhD in Urban and Regional Development, Ahsan Abbass PhD in progress, Saira Ali PhD Management Sciences (enrolled) and all others included in the list none of them had completed PhD degree in Economics. Some of them were enrolled for M Phil or PhD but none of them had completed its degree.

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