Imran Khan asks Hafeez to continue as his finance adviser

Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: After getting a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting with Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Parliament House and asked him to continue performing duties as the adviser to PM on finance.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had faced defeat in the Senate elections at the hands of PDM candidate Yusuf Raza Gilani.

The premier had appointed Dr Shaikh as Minister of Finance on Dec 10, 2020, so he would be required to become a member of the parliament within six months under the constitutional requirement. Now the government had timeframe till June 10, 2021 and therefore Dr Shaikh had been asked to continue working till the expiry of the timeframe. Then he would be appointed as the adviser to PM on finance.

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Earlier, one cabinet member of the PTI-led government told this scribe that it was not appropriate to allow Dr Shaikh for tendering resignation. Therefore, he might be asked to continue working as finance adviser. “I hope he will continue. Repeated changes in such a key slot are not good,” he added.

“When Dr Shaikh will again be appointed as adviser to PM on finance, a challenging situation will emerge that he will not be able to chair crucial meetings of ECC, NFC, ECNEC, Cabinet Committee on Privatisation and such others,” said the official sources. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had barred the adviser to PM for chairing the cabinet committee so the government was forced to relieve him and appoint him as minister for finance.

Now an interesting situation emerged with his defeat but PM Imran Khan decided that Dr Shaikh would continue working as adviser to PM on finance for the remaining tenure of the PTI-led government.

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It is yet to see whether the premier will hold the portfolio of finance minister with him or he would appoint someone else as the finance minister for delivering a budget speech, chairing different cabinet committees and appearing before the parliament for replying different questions and relevant issues.

The distribution of work among finance minister and adviser to PM on finance can provide a workable solution for discharging different official assignments. But it will be hard for different personalities to work as a team for discharging their responsibilities.

With defeat in Senate elections, Dr. Shaikh had faced a blow and now he would have to muster up his momentum to work effectively on crucial slots of the finance ministry. A powerful finance minister is considered more essential when the country is passing through under the IMF program. Now the IMF’s stalled program of $6 billion under Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is an advanced stage of revival because the Fund’s Executive Board is all set to consider Pakistan’s request for approval of combined second to fifth reviews and release of $500 million by end of ongoing month, so Dr. Shaikh’s continuation might give right kind of signals to the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for providing unabated support to Pakistan.

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