Coronavirus
VERY HIGH
Pakistan Deaths
19,106
11324hr
Pakistan Cases
864,557
308424hr
Sindh
293,426
Punjab
320,851
Balochistan
23,534
Islamabad
78,382
KPK
124,979

• Hammad Azhar, Omar Ayub and Khusro Bakhtiar made Minister of Energy, Minister of Economic Affairs Division, Minister of Industries and Production, respectively

ISLAMABAD: In yet another major cabinet reshuffle on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to appoint Shaukat Tarin as the fourth Finance and Revenue Minister to head Ministry of Finance (MoF) in less than three years ahead of the budget for the next fiscal year.

An official said that Shaukat Tarin, who had also served as Finance Minister during Pakistan People’s Party-led government in 2009-10, was the first choice of Prime Minister Khan after removal of Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to deal with the challenges of growth, revenue and reforms during the remaining period of the government.

However, Hammad Azhar was given the additional charge of Minister for Finance and Revenue on March 31st.

An official of Prime Minister's Office said the prime minister has taken the decision of cabinet reshuffle and notification in this effect would be issued soon and later a page with names, existing and new portfolios, if any, was shared with media.

According to the details shared with media by the Prime Minister's Office, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin has been allocated the portfolio of Finance and Revenue and Hammad Azhar, Minister for Industries and Production with additional portfolio of Finance and Revenue has been made Minister for Energy. Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Power Division, with additional charge of Petroleum Division has been made Minister for Economic Affairs Division.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Economic Affairs (EAD) has been assigned the portfolio of Ministry of Industries and Production.

Fawad Ahmed, Minister for Science and Technology has replaced Syed Shibli Faraz as Minister for Information and Broadcasting, whereas, Senator Shibli Faraz is made Minister for Science and Technology.

Although, Shaukat Tarin is not a member of the parliament, the prime minister, in exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution's Article 91(9), can appoint any individual, who is not part of the Parliament, a minister for a period of six months.

According to the Article 91(9) of the Constitution, "A minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the National Assembly shall, at the expiration of that period, cease to be a minister and shall not before the dissolution of that assembly be again appointed a minister unless he is elected a member of that Assembly: Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to a minister who is a member of the Senate."

Reuters adds: Tarin takes on the job as just weeks before the annual budget is due, with economists saying Pakistan is likely to record its biggest ever deficit as a result of uncertain government policies aggravated by coronavirus pandemic.

The third wave of COVID-19 currently sweeping through the country will create additional uncertainty in areas such as revenue collection, making the budget estimates more difficult.

Pakistan expects its economy to grow 3% in the current fiscal year which ends June 30, having revised its forecast higher from a little above 2%. Last year, GDP contracted by 0.4%.

The International Monetary Fund projects 2020/2021 GDP growth of 1.5% and the World Bank see a 1.3% expansion.

IMF country chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said on April 8 that good data in January and February had suggested growth could beat its forecast but that the pandemic's third wave meant "perhaps we might ... need to dampen a bit our expectations".

Pakistan will also need to adjust its annual budget, he said.

The IMF approved a $500 million disbursement to Pakistan last month for budget support after competing delayed reviews of a $6 billion Extended Fund Facility programme. GDP growth was 5.8% when Khan took power in 2018. Some $2.5 billion of borrowing in international bond market and historically high remittances have recently given some economic breathing space.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021