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The Emergence and Transformation of Batkhela (Malakand) Bazaar: Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Social Networks, and Change in Disadvantageous Societies

2014 September 25
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by mhameed

PSSP Working Paper 021 “The Emergence and Transformation of Batkhela (Malakand) Bazaar: Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Social Networks, and Change in Disadvantageous Societies” is an inquiry into the emergence and transformation of Batkhela bazaar in the North West of Pakistan. It investigates the emergence of the bazaar in the face of historical conditions characterized by social stratification and political exclusivity. It then probes the transformation of Batkhela bazaar and it’s functioning in the current socio-political conditions. The study also reflects on the social and political embeddedness of the entrepreneurial activities of the bazaar. Through ethnographic methods, the study finds that the entrepreneurs use social networks of family and friends at different stages of entrepreneurship. Where family networks were more useful in the initial stage of business development, friendship networks were more useful in the later stages of business. Friendship networks being more diverse are not limited to co-ethnics as the literature on ethnic entrepreneurship would suggest but are increasingly cross-ethnic. With these findings the study concludes that Batkhela bazaar is a monumental marketplace that is socially and political embedded and contributes enormously to economic growth in the region.

PSSP Seminar in Washington DC: Addressing the Needs of Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan

2014 September 19
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IMG_0030On September 11th, 2014, researchers and policymakers gathered at IFPRI to discuss the widespread damage and displacement caused by the recent floods in Pakistan at the PSSP event, "Addressing the Needs of Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan." This seminar was chaired by His Excellency, Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador of Pakistan to the US. Presentations were made by Dr. Anis Dani, former Social Scientist and Advisor to the World Bank, Dr. Paul Dorosh, Director of the Development, Strategy and Governance Division at IFPRI, and Dr. Shakil Malik, Director of Psychiatric Services, National Health Service Partnership in UK. The event was moderated by Dr. Sohail Malik, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI and Chairman of Innovative Development Strategies Ltd. (IDS)

As of September 8,2014, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan reports 128 people dead, 436,499 persons affected by the floods in Punjab alone, and  325,647 acres of crops destroyed. There are additional losses in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan. This damage is likely to increase as flood water moves south through Sindh.

This only adds to the 1.02 million people displaced by the military campaign against terrorists in North Waziristan (according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (situation report number 10) as of September 2, 2014). In addition, there are also 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees residing throughout Pakistan.

These huge losses and the issue of internally displaced people (IDPs) are a matter of grave national and international concern.

For pictures, presentations and text to the Ambassador's speech from the event, please see the following links:

Addressing the Needs of Internally Displaced Persons in Pakistan 

Dr. Anis Dani
former Lead Social Scientist and Advisor, World Bank
Topic: IDPs - What do we learn from previous experience?

Dr. Paul Dorosh
Director, Development Strategy & Governance Division, IFPRI
Topic: Floods and Natural Disasters in South Asia: Implications for Food Security

Dr. Shakil Malik
Director Psychiatric Services, N​ational ​H​ealth S​ervice​Partnership, ​Sussex UK
Topic: Elements of the Program for addressing the psycho-social trauma of the IDPs and its importance for social and economic development of Pakistan

Moderated by

Dr. Sohail Malik
Visiting Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
Chairman, Innovative Development Strategies Ltd. (IDS)


His Excellency Jalil Abbas Jilani
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States
Text to the Ambassador's Address




Issues in the measurement and construction of the consumer price index in Pakistan

2014 August 28
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The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the most important measures used in economic analysis. The more common uses are: the indexation of wages, rents, contracts and social security payments; the deflation of household consumption in the national accounts; and as a general macroeconomic indicator, especially for inflation targeting and for setting interest rates. Elements of a CPI are also often used in the calculation of purchasing power parities (PPPs) required in the International Comparison Program (ICP) (UN, 2009). As such it also has very significant political implications when the performance of the governments is assessed in terms of real growth, inflation and poverty reduction.
This paper examines the measurement and construction of the Consumer Price Index in Pakistan. With the help of the data from Household Integrated Economic Surveys (HIES) of the Government of Pakistan, and the recently collected data of Rural Household Panel Survey under the Pakistan Strategy Support program, this paper examines identifies some serious issues in the measurement and construction of the CPI in Pakistan. Differences in the consumption patterns and prices faced by rural and urban households not explicitly accounted for in the CPI and the respective weights of different commodity groups used are highlighted as issues for serious concern.

Read more at PSSP Working Paper 020 "Issues in the measurement and construction of the consumer price index in Pakistan" 

How much do you love Pakistan?

2014 April 28
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by mhameed

PSSP Working Paper 018 "How much do you love Pakistan? A property tax revenue simulation for a municipal revolution in Punjab" conducted empirical policy research on property taxation with regard to fiscal revenue options and growth potential of cities. The study incorporates a legal and procedural review of the property tax system in Punjab and data collection primarily from one rural Tehsil of Punjab for the Urban Immovable Property Tax (UIPT) and the agricultural-land Local Rate tax. Key Informant Interviews were conducted to highlight the weaknesses in the local property tax systems arising from issues such as inter-governmental fiscal relations; classification, valuation and assessment mechanisms; political factors; compliance culture; tax administration functions, especially record-keeping; and exemptions and preferential treatments. Finally, simulations were undertaken to show the potential revenue increase from a variety of urban and rural property tax policy options. Results show substantial potential gains in tax revenue from extending the UIPT to built-up village Lal Lakeer Localities and other policy options.

An assessment of industrial employment skill gaps among university graduates in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster, Pakistan

2014 April 25
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PSSP Working Paper 17 "An assessment of industrial employment skill gaps among university graduates in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster, Pakistan" looks at different assessments of employers and students regarding job skills. These lead to prominent gaps, defined by the authors as skill, employability, and perception gaps. The study is based on surveys of 100 industrial employers and 151 final year students from 6 universities and postgraduate colleges in the Gujrat-Sialkot-Gujranwala industrial cluster. Factor analysis grouped 24 specific skills into the three interpretable categories: communication and business specific skills, core employability skills, and professional skills. The results suggest gaps in all three respects for each of the skill categories. Close coordination among all stakeholders through internship programs for students, development and timely revision of market oriented curricula, and special skill enhancement training programs are recommended steps to enhance productive youth employment in Pakistan.

Competitive Grants Program Launches Third Call for Applications

2014 February 7
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Competitive Grants Program

Third Round of Grant Selections


Call for Round 3 Applications

Proposals due 31 March 2014

(Call for Applications circulated 1 February 2014)


 Research to Support the Enhanced Economic Growth of Pakistan

The Pakistan Strategy Support Program (PSSP) in conjunction with the federal Planning Commission is pleased to announce its third Call for Applications for research to enhance the economic growth of Pakistan. For Pakistan to achieve prosperity requires sustained and inclusive high growth. The Competitive Grants Program (CGP) is designed to support economic and other social science research that will inform the strategy of the Planning Commission for achieving its growth objectives. Fostering innovation within the academic and policy-oriented research communities of Pakistan is vital to the growth strategy.


The Competitive Grants Program is guided by a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) comprised of senior Pakistani and international development scholars. The 2014-15 Chairman of the RAC is Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. Under its first two round of competition, the CGP has supported nearly forty research projects. Information on these previous rounds is available at


Analyses of Selected Heavy Metals and Aflotoxin M1 in Milk for Human Consumption in Jhang City, Pakistan

2014 January 7
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Traditional milk shops PSSP Working Paper 012 “Analyses of Selected Heavy Metals and Aflatoxin M1 in Milk for Human Consumption in Jhang City, Pakistan" investigates chemical contaminants in milk which affect public health and can constrain exports under sanitary and phyto-sanitary agreements. To investigate this, a screening survey was conducted during 2012-2013 to determine concentrations of Copper, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, and Aflatoxin M1 in unprocessed, non-branded liquid milk available at conventional milk shops in Jhang city of Punjab and, for comparison, from small farms located near wastewater drains in peri-urban areas of the city. Findings show median concentrations of heavy metals being significantly higher than the standards of the International Dairy Federation and levels in a very high percentage of the samples exceeded these standards, however, there was no permissible level available for Chromium to make a comparable analysis. The AFM1 levels in 17% of samples were higher than the maximum tolerance limit set by the United States. The authors argue that these findings warrant continuous monitoring of those contaminants and a policy for their control. The levels of AFM1 in samples indicate that feed for animals was contaminated with aflatoxin B1- the precursor of AFM1 and they recommend surveillance of aflatoxin B1 in commercial concentrate feeds and industrial waste management. More generally, the sampling methodology adopted in this study can be a template for executing similar surveys is urban areas of developing countries (and informal markets) where a sampling frame of shops is not available.

Collection and Marketing of High Value Medicinal and Aromatic Plants from District Swat, Pakistan

2013 December 16
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Medicinal Plants - Swat

PSSP Working Paper 011: Collection and Marketing of High Value Medicinal and Aromatic Plants from District Swat, Pakistan by Dr. Hassan Sher presents an analysis of existing practices in collecting and trading high value medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) from District Swat, Pakistan. Local collectors/farmers and dealers were surveyed about their efforts, quantities collected, prices received and resulting incomes. Herbal markets in major cities of Pakistan were surveyed for current market trends, sources of material, imports and exports of herbal material, price patterns, and market product-quality requirements. The study notes that wild collection is almost the only source of medicinal plant raw material, with virtually no cultivation. Nomadic tribesman and local farmers involved in collecting MAPs are largely untrained regarding the pre-harvest and post-harvest treatment of collected materials, they lack marketing skills and access to larger markets, and are often unaware of the high prices their products earn at final sale. The trade pattern of MAPs is complex and heterogeneous, involving many players. The market share for District Swat has been declining. Reasons for the decline were identified as unreliable and often poor quality of the material supplied, length of the supply chain, and poor marketing strategies. This study posits that these problems can be addressed by improving the knowledge of those at the start of the supply chain, improving linkages among all steps in the chain, and developing sustainable harvesting practices.

Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Incentive Pay for Tax Collectors by Dr. Asim Khwaja

2013 December 16
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by mhameed



Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Incentive Pay for Tax Collectors


A discussion with

Asim Khwaja

Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development,
Harvard Kennedy School

Thursday, 19 December 2013
12:00pm – 1:15pm


7AB Conference Room
International Food Policy Research Institute
2033 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006-1002 USA


CGP Round 2 Award Summaries and Radio Programs

2013 July 18
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In summer 2013, the Competitive Grants Program entered an exciting second stage. Interim reports have been received from the first round awardees; they have been externally reviewed under RAC coordination, and the reviews have been returned to grant awardees for development of their final project reports. Second round projects are well under way and the Competitive Grants Program is already seeing some promising results from the research done.  The second round awardees will submit interim reports on their projects this fall.

Round 2 awards

After an extensive proposal and review process of project applicants, the Competitive Grants Program within the PSSP held its second awards ceremony in April 19, 2013. The ceremony was held at the Marriott in Islamabad and was well attended by PSSP leadership, Pakistani officials, award recipients, and many other honored guests. At the ceremony, 20 applicants were awarded grants to conduct policy research on important topics concerning Pakistan’s economic development.

Grants underway cover a wide range of policy issues including three projects on entrepreneurship, four projects on agricultural markets and policy, four regarding governance policies, five regarding markets trade and growth, and three grants awarded to projects proposed by Pakistani researchers currently studying or based internationally.

Please find the link below to a description of the research projects receiving awards:

CGP round 2 project summaries

The Competitive Grants Program is excited about these new research projects and looks forward to working with the awardees to achieve their goals.

Radio programs

Radio talk shows were aired in May of 2013 highlighting some of the important research which these grants are funding. These radio programs were organized in collaboration with FM 101 and USAID. A portion of Round 2 awardees were featured, coming on the program to discuss their research and stir debate about the policy areas where they are working. Please find the link below to the full radio broadcast.

CGP radio broadcast 


(This post was authored by Mr. Andrew Comstack)