- Govt decides against granting second term to Dr Baqir
- Dr Murtaza Syed to assume charge of acting governor, says SBP
The government has decided against granting Dr Reza Baqir an extension following the completion of his three-year term as governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), confirmed finance minister Miftah Ismail to Business Recorder on Tuesday.
The SBP said the senior-most deputy governor becomes the acting governor now.
"Dr Murtaza Syed is the senior most," SBP Chief Spokesman Abid Qamar confirmed to this correspondent.
In a tweet separately, Ismail wished Dr Baqir the very best, and said "we worked well during our brief time together".
"Tomorrow, SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir’s 3-year expires," said Ismail. "I have spoken to him and told him of the government’s decision. I want to thank Reza for his service to Pakistan. He is an exceptionally qualified man and we worked well during our brief time together. I wish him the very best."
The change in SBP leadership comes at a time when Pakistan remains in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for revival of its stalled Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Just last month, Ismail and Dr Baqir along with other economic managers undertook a trip to Washington to move ahead on the IMF programme. Ismail had stated then that Pakistan has sought an increase in the size and duration of its $6 billion EFF.
Dr Baqir was appointed as governor of the SBP by the President on May 4, 2019, for a period of 3 years from the day he assumed office, which he did on May 5, 2019. His term, therefore, expired on Wednesday (today). He had replaced Tariq Bajwa who resigned from the top slot of the SBP in 2019.
Earlier, Business Recorder had reported that Dr Murtaza Syed will assume charge of acting governor if the federal government did not grant an extension to Dr Baqir. Sources had said that the present coalition government is not willing to re-appoint him after expiry of his three-year tenure. Two weeks earlier, a federal minister also hinted at the possibility.
Last month, an official of the government had said that the appointment of a retired bureaucrat as governor SBP was unlikely due to age restrictions in the law. According to the SBP Act 2021, no person shall hold the office of the Governor or Deputy Governor after attaining the age of sixty-five years. He added the names of some bureaucrats, being cited in the media as possible candidates for the position, had retired a few years back and they are; therefore, ineligible for the office of Governor SBP age wise.
During Dr Baqir's tenure, the SBP took a number of measures to strengthen Pakistan’s financial sector including an aggressive economic support package of over Rs 1.5 trillion in response to COVID-19. Roshan Digital Accounts, an initiative aimed at digitally including the diaspora into Pakistan’s banking system and providing incentives to use formal channels to remit, as well as implementation of the National Payments Strategy to promote the digitisation of financial services, were also launched during his tenure. Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar (MPMG), another initiative that set lending targets to banks for the provision of financing for the housing and construction sector, was also launched.
Additionally, the SBP (Amendment) Bill was also passed during Dr Baqir's tenure, inarguably among the most hotly-debated piece of legislation during the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
Prior to his appointment as SBP governor, Dr Baqir had 18 years of experience with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and two years of experience with the World Bank, according to information available on the SBP website.
He was head of the IMF's Office in Egypt and Senior Resident Representative since August 2017. He also held positions as IMF’s Mission Chief for Romania and Bulgaria, Division Chief of the IMF's Debt Policy Division, Strategy, Policy and Review Department, overseeing the lender's work on debt relief and sovereign debt restructuring, and head of the IMF delegation to the Paris Club for four years. Dr Baqir was also the Deputy Division Chief of the Emerging Markets Division overseeing IMF’s loans and policies in emerging markets, amongst other roles.