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September 4, 2019

Waiving of GIDC a step in country’s interest: minister


September 4, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht on Tuesday said waiving of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) was not a favour to any individual of favourites rather the step was taken in the larger interest of the country’s economy. The government is removing the flaws from the GIDC and evolving a system in which issues will not emerge.

Addressing the panel discussion in a symposium on Behavioural Economics in Policy Making jointly organised here, he said that revenue shortfall would not affect the Punjab province revenue and development as an alternate plan was already evolved to tackle the situation. He mentioned that revenue growth of the province was 46 percent during the last financial year. He said everyone had to pay taxes and should trust in the government. This symposium is the first ever initiative that will engage policy-makers and researchers alike to discuss the role that behavioural interventions can play in matters of compliance, public finance and accountability in Pakistan.

The session chaired by Punjab finance minister moderated by Lori Foster pointed towards the need to nudge policymakers for greater transparency and accountability. The panel commenced with insights from Adnan Khan who reflected on areas that are most susceptible to behavioural biases and ended on the effectiveness of nudging policy-makers that lie that are central to enforcing any behavioural changes.

Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan, Maroof Syed highlighted the potential opportunities within Pakistan where behavioural interventions can bring about immediate impact. Dr Hamna Ahmad shared experiences from her ongoing work aimed to improve governance and service delivery of third tier organisations across country. Hashim Jawan Bakhat highlighted the need to move in the direction of using behavioural interventions and not solely depend on public finance.

The session was concluded by Dr Foster emphasising the need to build trust by organisations using three core components namely ability, benevolence and integrity. Earlier, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Hassan Al Thawadi said that hosting the Middle East’s first mega event had inspired them to ensure that they served as a catalyst for socio-economic progress and development. Integrating behavioural insight experiments within our vast array of programmes is an integral part of that mission.

“We are pleased that the government of Pakistan and other national stakeholders are considering applications of behavioural economics concepts and tools in various areas of public policy, including public finance management, education and healthy lifestyle. We are glad to support as well as share lessons learned from our own experience in setting up such initiatives and conducting behavioural experiments”, he said.

Rector of a private school, Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry in the welcome remarks emphasised growing role of behavioural economics in policy-making. Professor, North Carolina State University Dr Lori Foster delivered the keynote address sharing insights from her experience as member of the White House Social and Behavioural Sciences Team.The first panel discussion aimed to shed light on the importance of using behavioral insights to promote compliance, rule of law and revenue generation. The session was chaired by, Mujtaba Piracha, Additional Chief Secretary (Services Economy), Punjab, and moderated by Umar Taj, Research Fellow in Behavioral Science. Dr Ijaz Nabi, Country Director, International Growth Centre, on the other hand, highlighted the need to establish trust in government institutions by working toward greater transparency. The last session set the stage for a round table discussion amongst academicians and government figures to strengthen capacity building using behavioural insights. In particular, the session aimed to explore the ongoing initiatives in this field to better inform government programmes and policies.

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