Michael Debabrata Patra: Productivity - the promise of progress

Inaugural address by Dr Michael Debabrata Patra, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, at the Sixth Asia KLEMS Conference, Lonavala, 11 June 2023. 

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
22 June 2023

I. Introduction

Good evening!

I welcome you all to the sixth Asia KLEMS Conference, to India and to the Reserve Bank of India, henceforth RBI. We are honoured to host this conference in physical mode after the arduous isolation imposed by the pandemic. The hill town of Lonavala, an ancient resting place for travellers and traders, is nestled in India's soon-to-be monsoon-drenched western ghats – a chain of mountains running 30 to 50 km inland parallel to India's west coast across six provinces. We do hope that its verdant ambience will dispel all pandemic blues and provide a salubrious backdrop for this Conference which has "Productivity, Growth, and Resilience in the Asian Economies" as its theme. The Conference itself is a tribute to the fortitude and perseverance displayed by Asian economies through the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Before I turn to the subject of my address today, I thought a journey down memory lane might be appropriate for the occasion. The Asia KLEMS has a short but eventful history, replete with promoting the building of databases and conducting international productivity comparisons among Asian economies. The first Asia KLEMS conference was held in Tokyo in 2011. The abiding interest in that Conference was in productivity growth, going by the papers presented, a theme to which we return today. The next four Conferences were hosted in Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Beijing in which attention diversified to setting up the KLEMS database and accounting framework, structural change and sources of productivity growth, methodological issues and productivity gaps, growth and productivity, and the role of factors such as information and communication technology or ICT, intangibles, trade and labour markets. At the time of the fifth Asia KLEMS meeting in 2019, India was selected as the venue for the next conference. Unfortunately, COVID-19-related restrictions on international travel prevented the conference from being convened in 2021 but finally, the sixth Asia KLEMS conference is being held today.