Published Date: Feb 12, 2012
SDPI CELEBRATES 20TH BIRTHDAY
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and other think tanks have been playing crucial role in the process of development across the globe through policy advice and bringing together all the stakeholders. The state has to strengthen its revenue generation base to ensure justice and prosperity of its citizens otherwise problems of today will become insolvable as their nature is global with long-term implications.
These views were expressed by Dr Tariq Banuri, Founding Executive Director of SDPI and Director Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations, New York, while speaking at 20th anniversary celebrations of SDPI here on Saturday.
Delegates from the government, civil society, media, academia, and foreign diplomats participated in the ceremony and deliberated on the role of think tanks and SDPI, particularly in upholding the cause of people and environment in development process.
Dr Tariq Banuri spoke on the emergence and evolution of think tanks across the globe and their contributions. He said in 1970s emergence of think tanks took place across the world as social sciences became more and more collaborative work, an increase in demand side research and enhanced human ability to process information analytically.
Essentially, discontinuity in traditional thought and the realisation that problems are no longer national and their implications are no longer short, accelerated the momentum of emergence of think tanks phenomenon, he added.
Recalling the SDPI’s formation as an independent think tank in 1992, he said, the need and realisation that development and environment required critical and helpful advice to enhance the government to make informed policy decisions and to bring the civil society together on issues of public interest. Before SDPI, PCISR, some other organisation like NARC and PIDE existed which were though run by the government but contributed well in initial phases of their formation.
Talking about the number of SDPI success stories of influencing public policies and decisions, he said, generally the institute had been following a four-pronged strategy – push, help, pull and join. He also discussed the concept of ‘circle of justice’ arguing that no prosperity could be achieved unless justice is not ensured. He also highlighted relevance of governance with tax base of the state and prosperity of people while giving a comparative analysis of tax collection to GDP ratios in developed and developing countries and the case of Pakistan.
He said low tax to GDP ratio in Pakistan had resulted in weakening of the state itself and hence government was mostly reliant on foreign assistance. He informed that tax to GDP ratio in Pakistan was estimated around 10 percent in 2009 as compared to average 20 percent in developing countries and 30-40 percent in developed countries. He shared that provincial share in tax collection was less than 1.5 percent whereas share of provinces in tax collection in India was 5 percent.
Dr Abid Q Suleri, SDPI Executive Director, welcomed the participating delegates of SDPI’s 20th Anniversary and said the year 2012 marked the completion of 20 years of SDPI’s struggle for peace, social justice and wellbeing through research, policy advocacy and capacity-building.
Shafqat Kakakhel, SDPI Senior Advisor, highlighted the fascinating story of setting up of SDPI by Dr Tariq Banuri. He said realising the need to provide policy research based advice to government and civil society was much needed as there existed an intellectual deficiency. He said Dr Banuri and SDPI had been cooperating and supporting the governments but not at the cost of principles and public interest.