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The constitutional requirement to hold National Economic Council (NEC) meetings twice a year was met only once, in the year 2018, during the last 10 years since the 18th Constitutional Amendment came into effect in 2010.
The 18th Amendment became an Act of Parliament on April 19, 2010, when Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was in power. Since then, the NEC has met twice a year only once - in 2018 when Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was Prime Minister, sources in Finance Ministry told Business Recorder.
During the current Khan administration the one and only NEC meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan was held on May 28, 2019, and it approved the national development outlay 2019-20, including the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and provincial Annual Development Plans (ADPs).
The meeting also reviewed the Annual Plan 2018-19 and the proposed Annual Plan 2019-20 with GDP projection for the outgoing fiscal year along with a sectoral growth target for agriculture, industry, and services sector for the financial year 2019-20.
The federal government has not announced the date of NEC meeting to consider and approve development outlay and macroeconomic targets for next fiscal year and to review the projections for the current fiscal year.
However, sources in the Finance Ministry told Business Recorder that as Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) meeting is expected to be convened on June 4, the NEC meeting would most probably be held in the following week but the exact date has not yet been conveyed to them.
In accordance with Article 156 (4), the Council shall meet at least twice in a year and the quorum for a meeting of the Council shall be one-half of its total membership.
According to Article 156 (1), "the President shall constitute a National Economic Council which shall consist of-(a) the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairman of the Council; (b) the Chief Ministers and one member from each Province to be nominated by the Chief Minister; and (c) four other members as the Prime Minister may nominate from time to time."
On December 10, 2019, President Arif Alvi reconstituted NEC to appoint Planning Minister Asad Umar as a member of NEC besides Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Adviser to PM on Commerce Razak Dawood and Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Husain.
Member Provincial Assembly Balochistan Jan Muhammad Jamali, Finance Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Taimur Khan Jhagra, Finance Minister Punjab Hashim Jawan Bakht and Nisar Ahmed Khuro (Sindh) were appointed as NEC members on the recommendations of their respective chief ministers.
Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah, CM Balochistan Jam Kamal and CM KP Mahmood Khan are NEC members.
Constitutionally, the NEC envisions coordination between the federal and the four provincial governments to review the overall economic condition of the country and formulate plans in respect of financial, commercial, social and economic policies.
There is a difference between NEC and NDC (National Development Council) formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan in June last year.
PM is NDC's Chairman and its members include Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Minister for Finance/Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Federal Minister for Commerce/Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Chief of Army Staff, Provincial Chief Ministers, Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan (on invitation), any additional minister/head of strategic body (on invitation), Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Foreign Affairs Division, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division and Additional Secretary, Prime Minister's Office.
NDC is mandated to set policies and strategies for development and "formulate and tailor policies to achieve accelerated economic growth." Unlike NEC, NDC is not bound to meet twice a year.
Council of Common Interests (CCI) which is also headed by PM is required to meet every 90 days but it has not met since December 23, 2019. The CCI consists of PM as its chairman, four CMs as its members and three members from federal government to be nominated by PM from time to time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020