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Monday, September 22, 2008


Competitiveness is of major importance in a global economy. Productivity includes innovation and technology transfer as well as cost-cutting and improved workforce skills. Geoff Quartermaine Bastin has led a team at the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF -see link) in Islamabad working with J.E.Austin Associates (JAA) to write an in-depth study of competitiveness in Pakistan, the "State of Pakistan's Competitiveness Report 2008*. The study includes a case study of agriculture and another on women's access to finance. The study, based on World Economic Forum base rankings explains why Pakistan currently ranks 92nd out of 131 countries measured by the WEF. The Report also suggests what can be done to change things for the better. A copy can be found at the following link:

Friday, September 19, 2008


2008 has seen an enormous crisis in the wheat grain grain and flour industry in Pakistan. Geoff QB along with colleagues Sadia Sarwar and Zain Asadullah Kazmi prepared a comprehensive analysis of wheat policy, prices, supply and demand in order to cast light on what caused the crisis (government mismanagement) and what could be done to avoid the situation in future (among other things restructure the GOP official procurement system). The Discussion Paper, issued by the Competitiveness Support Fund in Islamabad is available at the following link in ,pdf format:


We've been doing some work outside our normal food industry activities - in the "dimensional stone " industry - stone used for tiles and other construction areas. This has involved looking at the activities of a quasi-government organization established to help upgrade quarries and stone cutting and polishing facilities. A lot to the value chain focused  techniques of analysis we use in the food industry are similar, and because the food industry is so complex, other industrial activities seem simple to understand by comparison. The main problems are at the quarrying end, where stone gets blasted out of the mountain instead of cur correctly. Wastage of the primary product is very high -but where have we heard that before!


You need to have the machine working! And working right! You would like it to be designed for your needs and be efficient. Innovative and well-designed machinery and related technology is essential for productivity in this highly competitive industry and in a global economy. 

I got sick of dysfunctional technology and ranted about this pet gripe on LinkedIn ( I got A LOT of answers! These knowledgeable people helped me understand what was going wrong in technology design.  I;ve written an essay about the subject based on their ideas and comments which appears on the website of the Competitiveness Support Fund at: