‘Strengthening Evidence-informed Decision-making in Pakistan’s Trade Sector We must prioritize the evidence-based data in trade and commerce to depoliticize our economy, experts

Need stressed to prioritize evidence-based data in trade to depoliticize economy

ISLAMABAD ( Web News )

Politicizing economy is fatal for Pakistan at a time when the country is undergoing a very serious political situation, therefore, we must prioritize the evidence-based data in trade and commerce to depoliticize our economy, said experts at a webinar on ‘Strengthening Evidence-informed Decision-making in Pakistan’s Trade Sector’, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that SDPI’s food security dashboard, which ensures evidence-based prediction of food items and their prices, is a prime example of it. He was of the view that the Russia and Ukraine conflict also demand the use of evidence-based policy action to avert any emergency of food shortage, and supply chain.

Referring to ‘Strengthening the Use of Evidence for Development Impact’ (SEDI), a prorgramme launched in Uganda, Ghana and Pakistan to contribute towards a more efficient and effective decision-making by the partner governments, he said SEDI is of immense importance especially in the unprecedented times like the COVID-19.

Mr Naveed Aziz, Governance Advisor, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said that the better use of data in improving performance and accountability is of utmost importance. He was of the view that improving the government capacity to expedite PC1 is only possible with evidence-based data. He stressed the need for updating database by the provincial governments in their important ministries. “We do not have dearth of data but to have it on routine and real time and their use by the provincial and federal governments is important,” Mr Naveed said.

Mr Harry Achillini, Research and Evidence Adviser, FCDO said that SEDI has been contributing to the evidence-based policy input in trade in different countries, including Pakistan, which have yielded fruitful results in many respects.

Ms Rahika Menon, Head of Evidence Use Hub, Oxford Policy Management, India said that in every crisis there are opportunities and so as in the pandemic, which proved for us to do an informed and evidence-based policies and decisions. She said the use of evidence is a continued process and need to be encouraged in our policy making and futuristic decision-making.

Mr Hamood ur Rauf, Director Investigations, National Tariff Commission (NTC), was of the view that collecting and analyzing data and its distribution to stakeholders is important for the smooth trade relations. Use of evidence-based data is important for informed decision making and improving the work of the public and private sector organizations, he maintained.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI, said that a deeper public-private dialogue could play a critical role in ascertaining the right regulatory measures as the economy comes out of the pressures induced by COVID-19.  The pandemic has provided an opportunity to introduce interventions related to e-payments, e-signatures, and e-contracts in the overall trade processing chain. Greater reliance of traders during COVID-19 on internet banking and insurance could cut trade costs. Protection of confidential information held by exporters and importers remained always a concern that should be addressed, he emphasized.

Mr Umer Bhatti, International Development Analyst. said that liberalization of trade was the real purpose of GATT, for which the evidence-based data is central. He was of the view that data has been a helping hand in identifying trade gaps in free trade agreements with countries like China and ASEAN countries. The digitization of trade processes is possible with the use of data and can be enhanced by identifying gaps in it. He said that we must have database for the SMEs as well and hand it over to the government and also the private sector for a more informed decision making.

Ms Tayaba Batool, Trade Expert, was of the view that data is important for the effective use of our resources. “Data is like the twelfth man in the game of trade and policy making, she said, adding that different forums and software have been developed for the better use and analysis of data in the decision-making.” She said cost-benefit analysis and changes in the consumer trends can also be predicted by using different data layers and juxtaposing information in a coherent manner.#### End