ISLAMABAD - The third State of Pakistans Competitiveness Report was launched by Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Shaukat Tarin in New York and Washington on July 14 and July 16 July respectively. According to a press statement issued by Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) Friday, Shaukat Tarin on the occasion of the launch while speaking to the US business, government and academic leaders from the US, noted that the need for Pakistans industries to achieve global competitiveness remains as great as ever, especially in light of these more uncertain times. Tarin presented a snapshot of the economy and the governments strategy for achieving high economic growth and poverty reduction. He also presented the opportunities for trade and investment. His remarks focused on key initiatives critical for Pakistans economic growth. He discussed raising Pakistans tax base from nine per cent to be more in line with other competing nations whose rates are as high as 30pc. He also indicated that the tax base needed to be expanded to include more industries, thereby collecting more revenues to sustain govt investment activities. Tarin attributed Pakistans fluctuating economic growth cycle to an over reliance on donor aid and acknowledged that the government needed to focus on coordinated initiatives to stimulate growth and ensure sustainability. The Advisor said that the agriculture business, a core component of Pakistans GDP, needed greater concentrated support to become more globally competitive. He noted the turnaround in Pakistans key economic indicators, demonstrating that the economy was looking up and recovering in line with recovery in other emerging economies. There are signs that the worst now might be over. Many of the economic indicators that had turned sharply downwards have now begun to rebound, he said. This strategy has also helped to curtail inflation from above 25.5 per cent in October 2007 to 14.4 per cent in May 2009. Despite external and internal pressures, Pakistans economic growth remained positive in 2008-09 and is expected to grow between three and four percent in 2009-10 Shaukat added. Jacob Lew, the US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, in his statement pointed out how efforts on the part of the US such as through $1.5b annually for the next 5 years in aid to Pakistan and the passage of the Reconstruction Opportunities Zone Act were examples of the US commitment to working with Pakistan to reinvigorate its economy and help it maintain stability. In a message published in the report, PM Gilani said the daunting challenges being faced by the world economies in 2009 were evident and while developed countries faced many difficulties, emerging economies like Pakistan are able to chart a course based on sound economic principles. He said the state of Pakistans Competitiveness Report 2009 demonstrated that the country had an excellent strategic position at the crossroads of the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. He added that major infrastructure investments under the National Trade Corridor Improvement Programme would be linking these areas for the first time. The report, he said, noted annual progress in various areas and also permitted an excellent, open and democratic dialogue about the economic opportunities that Pakistan enjoys and how to seize them. He believed that the state of Pakistans Competitiveness Report 2009 would be recommended reading for senior government officials, private sector leaders, economists and investors. Minister of State for Finance & Economic Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who is also the chairperson of the CSF Board, noted in her message that the State of Pakistans Competitiveness Report 2009 served several important functions. She said it provided input for policy-makers, helped stimulate dialogue among the government, private sector and civil society leaders while also providing a useful ongoing benchmark of progress. According to the report, Pakistan had developed an appropriate strategic framework for building national competitiveness in the form of Pakistan Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)-II. The strategy is based on a holistic approach towards economic, national competitiveness, social safety nets and poverty. The report also proposes a Competitiveness Action Plan to complement the governments nine-point agenda for economic and social recovery. The Action Plan aims to achieve three key strategic objectives including to improve Pakistans competitive ranking; to ensure growth and competitiveness through a coordinated policy approach and to promote innovation to facilitate Pakistans transition towards a knowledge-based economy. Pakistans low scores, the report says, are a function of poor performance in human resources. Scores for primary education, higher education and training and labour market efficiency are quite low at 116th, 123rd and 121st places respectively. This indicates the need to focus priority attention on workforce development (i.e., creating a modern workforce with the skills and mental agility to be responsive to changing demands). The report underlines growing perception that business competitiveness at the firm level has been falling. Pakistani companies are finding it increasingly difficult to compete as industries in other countries continue to improve their competitiveness. These same Pakistani companies, facing stiffer economic competition, may now be more aware of their true competitive position-affecting a more realistic self-scoring than previous years. A comprehensive competitiveness strategy the report says, if implemented, can help Pakistan achieve higher growth, improved productivity, and higher living standards. This will depend on the government addressing economic issues. It also provides a benchmark by which to measure future performance, and identifies strengths and weaknesses that can help government and industry leaders prioritise action.