STAFF REPORT ISB: The Executive Committee of the National Commission for Science and Technology (ECNCST) has stressed the need for installing an effective mechanism where the culture of Science and Technology in the current era of knowledge based economy can flourish.

The meeting was held at the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST). Minister of Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain and Minister for Planning and Development Prof. Ahsan Iqbal co-chaired the meeting.

The participants were informed that Research and Development (RandD) spending is considered as an important indicator of competitiveness of a countrys economy. Pakistans RandD spending, as percentage of GDP, is consistently declining since 2006-07 and at present it is only 0.29 per cent of its GDP.

The meeting noted that realizing the importance of RandD, fast growing countries are either spending or have set targets of investing between one per cent to four per cent of their GDPs on research and development.

They proposed the government to gradually raise the national RandD spending up to two per cent of the GDP by the year 2023 and provide appropriate tax incentives for enhancing RandD activities in the Industry.

Pakistans RandD System that is mostly in the public sector has poor linkages with the public and private sector industry/firms. Therefore, it was proposed that measures be taken for ensuring that the RandD activities are planned and executed in consultation and collaboration with the industrial sector.

Thus engaging private sector to share RandD funds as practiced in developed countries is also proposed. Furthermore, the government was requested to consider incentives to promote RandD at the industrial level and adopt different approaches to encourage and engage industry and civil society in patronage of RandD activities in the country.

To overcome the problem of brain drain, a uniform salary structure for scientists, engineers and technicians of RandD organizations was proposed along with service structure ensuring merit and performance based promotions.

In his opening remarks, Rana Tanveer Hussain expressed his confidence that valuable inputs of the participants would help a lot in achieving the objectives for which ECNCST are established. Furthermore, as a result of this meeting the forum will be able to put up concrete proposals for the meeting the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) to be chaired by the prime minister in the near future.

Prof. Ahsan Iqbal in his welcome comments highlighted the value of science and technology in the current era of knowledge based economy and assured that despite of some odds the Government is committed to promote S and T activities provided the efforts are directed to market driven research with potential of application and entrepreneurship.

Earlier, PCST Chairman Prof. Anwar Gilani in his capacity as Secretary ECNCST presented the agenda and informed that it has been prepared in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. Out of a total of 29 members including Secretaries of different federal ministries, chief secretaries of provinces, heads of different research and development organizations, eminent scientists, representatives of industry and HEC and Rector, 27 members participated in the meeting.

After a brief introduction of NCST and ECNCST the agenda items were discussed at length. A brief summary of the various items were also discussed during the meeting.

A national research agenda was shared with the aim to align the national RandD and innovation activities with the Vision 2025 and to provide a direction to the national RandD efforts so that they adequately support achievement of the goals under the seven pillars set in the Vision 2025.

They noted that a world class SandT culture cannot be cultivated without significantly visible political will for a stable SandT agenda with strong and sustained allocation of resources.

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