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International Productivity Congress [17-18 November 2011, Islamabad, Pakistan]

Welcome Address
by Ryuichiro Yamazaki
APO Secretary-General

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you.

On behalf of the APO Secretariat, I extend my sincere appreciation to the National Productivity Organization (NPO) of the Government of Pakistan for organizing this International Productivity Congress to celebrate 50 years of the productivity movement in the APO region. This laudable event, which is themed “Competitiveness through Productivity,” aptly represents the current aspiration of all countries worldwide, regardless of their stage of development. In a dynamic global market where countries must optimize economic output from limited resources, we are all seeking ways to create synergy through value creation to ensure economic growth and sustainability.

Pakistan is one of the APO’s founding members, and the NPO of Pakistan has been instrumental in catalyzing the improvement of your country’s productivity and in helping you to become more globally competitive.

At present, the global economy faces many difficult challenges. Against this backdrop, the GDP of Pakistan is estimated to grow at 2.4% in 2011, with the service sector the primary contributor. Although Pakistan is experiencing a lower rate of economic growth in 2011 compared with the GDP growth rate of 3.8% in 2010, it is still a dynamic nation on a stable development path. A multitude of economic reforms such as fiscal adjustments, energy privatization, deregulation of the telecommunications and banking sectors, and trade liberalization has contributed to boosting Pakistan’s economic growth. This was further spurred by exports, which increased by more than 20% in fiscal year 2010–2011.

Pakistan’s potential for economic development is thus heading in the right direction, and the future prospects for its economy certainly look promising. The poverty rate has declined significantly with average GDP per capita surpassing US$1,200. To continue to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of its citizens, I look forward to Pakistan improving its labor productivity, which stood at US$7,400 per worker in 2008, according to the APO Productivity Databook.

The NPO of Pakistan plays an essential role in the national journey toward quality improvement, business excellence, and innovation, all essential drivers of productivity growth. One clear example of the NPO’s commitment to the journey toward excellence is the proactive approach to training and building up Pakistan’s pool of business excellence assessors and consultants, leading it to launch the Prime Minister’s Quality Award that confers the highest honor on organizations that attain world-class standards of business excellence. I would like to congratulate the NPO on achieving this first in Pakistan’s history.

Other NPO initiatives include benchmarking studies in a wide range of industrial sectors such as surgical, cutlery, fan, and horticulture; and conducting energy audits in the textile and steel sectors under the energy efficiency framework. I would also like to add the Best Practices in fresh Fruits to the list of positive NPO contributions to achieving higher productivity.

You may be interested to know that from 2008 to 2010, the NPO of Pakistan and APO jointly carried out 34 projects in your country. During the same period, 628 Pakistani professionals, academics, and business executives participated in various APO projects held in member economies.

I look forward to the continuing successful efforts of the NPO to lead the productivity movement in your country by fostering an enabling environment and implementing effective programs that will lead to productivity enhancement. In the spirit of mutual cooperation, the APO will continue to support the NPO of Pakistan under the three strategic directions set in April this year at the Governing Body Meeting: to promote the development of SMEs and communities; to catalyze innovation-led productivity growth; and to promote Green Productivity.

I am sure that we are looking forward to hearing the presentations of all the best and the brightest here today representing various fields as they share their success stories. We can learn from their best practices and establish collaborative partnerships. I also hope that you will take this opportunity to address any challenges encountered in your quest to achieve sustainable productivity improvements.

I am confident that the discussions will help participants understand the key issues, enable them to launch new initiatives, and ultimately implement necessary policy measures to achieve sustainable economic development in Pakistan. In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Industries, especially the NPO of Pakistan, and everyone involved in organizing this event, as well as all the participating delegates.

Thank you very much.

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