PR No.79 Present Government Has A Strong Resolve To Prioritize Progress In Science & Technology …..Rana Tanveer Hussain Islamabad: March 9, 2016

Science & Technology has been treated as an adopted child in past but this Government has taken up the resolve and is ready to take initiatives in promoting Science & Technology in the country. Rana Tanveer Hussain, Federal Minister for Science & Technology said while chairing 6th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Council for Science and Technology(ECNCST) held in the committee room Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST).

The meeting was also co-chaired by Prof. Ahsan Iqbal Federal Minister for the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms. Prof. Dr. Anwar-ul-Hassan Gilani, Chairman PCST in his capacity as Secretary, ECNCST while presenting the agenda of the meeting informed that the it has been prepared by PCST in consultation with the relevant stakeholders including relevant Federal Ministries, provincial departments, Federal R&D / S&T organizations etc.

The participants were informed that Research and Development (R&D) spending is considered an important indicator of competitiveness of a country’s economy. Realizing the importance of R&D, most of the countries are either spending or have set targets of investing between 1% to 4% of their GDPs on R&D. In contrast to this, Pakistan’s R&D spending, as percentage of GDP, is consistently declining since 2006-07 and at present it is just 0.29% of GDP. It was therefore proposed that the Government should gradually raise the national R&D spending up to 2% of the GDP by the year 2023 and provide appropriate tax incentives for enhancing R&D activities in the private sector.

Pakistan’s R&D System that is mostly in the public sector has poor linkages with the public andprivate sector industry/firms. Therefore, it was proposed that measures may be taken for ensuring that the R&D activities are planned and executed in consultation and collaboration with the industrial sector. Engaging private sector to share R&D funds as practiced in developed countries was also proposed. Furthermore, the government was requested to consider incentives to promote R&D at the industrial level and adopt different approaches to encourage and engageindustry and civil society in patronage of R&D activities in the country.

To overcome the problem of brain drain and retain competent manpower, in S&T /R&D

organizations of the country a Uniform Salary Structure for Scientists, Engineers andTechnicians of R&D Organizations was proposed. It was informed that the government has already taken some measures, such as enhancing the salary and emoluments of scientists working in some major R&D organizations like PAEC, NESCOM, PARC, HEC & others and tenure track appointments of teachers in the Universities.

Pakistan’s needs as a strong, stable, prosperous 21st century Islamic Republic include a world class S&T culture. Such a culture cannot be cultivated without significantly visible political will for a stable S&T agenda with strong and sustained allocation of resources required to make substantive improvements in the societal and cultural importance given to science & technology.

In order to fulfill its role, MoST proposed a short-term communication strategy (based on Political ownership/leadership, Media exposure, Community building, Robust monitoring of science & technology performance) for the immediate improvement in the level of priority afforded to science & technology at the national level.

Science & technology and research & development can play an important role to realize almost all the goals and targets of the Vision 2025, while some of the goals require direct interventions of science and technology. A National Research Agenda was shared with the aim to align the national R&D and innovation activities with the Vision 2025 and to provide a direction to the national R&D efforts so that they adequately support achievement of the goals under the seven pillars set in the Vision 2025.

Due to some recent developments and after the 18th amendments in the Constitution, some Federal Ministries have been devolved and some new Ministries / Divisions have been created while nomenclature of some of the Ministries has also been changed. Suggestions were made to reflect these changes in the compositions of NCST and ECNCST.

It is pertinent to mention that the proposals approved by ECNCST will form the basis for Agenda of the next meeting of National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) to be chaired by the Prime Minister in the near future.

The Federal Minister in his closing remarks congratulated PCST and MoST for holding the meeting of ECNCST and appreciated the hard efforts made in holding this event.