Finance team upheaval | Pakistan Today

Finance team upheaval

  • Finance Secretary latest to be shown the door

Finance Secretary Younus Dagha’s removal, and replacement by Naveed Kamran Baloch, would have not caused such a stir, had it not occurred at a time when the Finance Ministry is focused on the preparation of the Budget to be presented next month, and while the staff-level talks with the IMF had resulted in an agreement. Mr Dagha himself had only taken office in March, after a long stint as Commerce Secretary. Tariq Bajwa, was fired earlier as State Bank Governor, and replaced by the IMF mission chief in Egypt, Dr Reza Baqir. At that time, the Finance Minister, Asad Umar, was replaced by Dr Hafeez Sheikh as PM’s Adviser, while the CFBR Chairman, Jahanzeb Khan, was replaced by Shabbar Zaidi. Only on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Board of Investment, Haroon Sharif, also resigned. Of the original team that the PTI brought in to manage the economy, it seems only the PM’s Commerce, Textiles, Industries and Production Adviser Razzak Dawood and Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar seem to have survived, while federal minister Muhammad Mian Soomro and Ghulam Sarwar Khan had their portfolios changed.

Previous IMF programmes have brought much to Pakistan, including a heavy dose of inflation and devaluation. However, this is the first time that it has brought such sweeping changes in the personnel involved. This may be because the PTI has been inept at finding willing and able officials for the task, or because Prime Minister Imran Khan is quick to fire people. Already there are murmurs about the new team, which may suit the IMF, but which has not halted the slide downwards of the economy. If Mr Khan was to pay much attention to these murmurs, it might make it seem that the IMF had brought revolving doors with it rather than an upheaval.

Mr Khan seems to be relying too much on his ability to choose the right player. There may lie the problem. The choosing of a cricket team is not like choosing people to help in running a country, and that too under trying circumstances. There is an important principle involved, that the captain should be good enough to win selection as a player. Perhaps Mr Khan would not like to see it applied. Maybe the problem is not the personnel, but the programme.