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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has reconstituted a 13-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) led by former finance minister Shaukat Tarin to advise the government on economic policies.

The trimmed down committee from 19 to 13 has only two members – Mr Abid Hassan and Dr Abdul Qayyum Sulehri – from the previous EAC, which was headed by Ishaq Dar.

Those inducted into the reconstituted council were still unclear if the government really required productive policy input for the economic direction of the country amid political transition or wanted to have a routine consultative forum meeting once or twice a year.

The prominent among those excluded from new EAC include former governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Husain, Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan, former economic adviser and Dean Nust Business School, and former principal economic adviser Sakib Sherani.

All but two members of old council axed as PM reshuffles advisers weeks before end of term

Instead former SBP governor Shahid Kardar has been inducted into the new council. Others include Dr Ali Cheema, Professor Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Atif Bajwa, Banking and Financial Sector Specialist, Ms Sima Kamil, CEO of United Bank Ltd, Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman of Board of Directors of Habib Bank Ltd, Arif Habib, Fawad Anwar and Asif Riaz Tata from the corporate sector, Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan Salman Akram Raja, Agricultural Policy Specialist Muhammad E. Tasneem, ex-chairman PARC, ex-member Planning Commission.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Miftah Ismail, PM’s adviser on Revenue Haroon Akhtar, Minister of State for Finance Rana Mohammad Afzal and SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa would be ex-officio members of the council.

When contacted Mr Tarin said he was not sure about the intentions of the government and would like to engage with them over the next couple of days and see if it was a routine affair or the government wanted the council’s effective role.

He said he was not kind of a person to be part of a routine forum but was ready to contribute positively for the sake of the country if the government was serious.

“We are ready to play our role for the country if they need productive input and collective wisdom, otherwise there is no use of sitting in committees,” he said.

Responding to a question, he said he was offered to take a full time job when the government wanted to replace Ishaq Dar but had told them “I am not interested in job” but can play a advisory role if there were good people in the group.

He said the EAC used to be an effective forum when he was the finance minister and used to meet on monthly basis and contribute to economic policy making.

The EAC is an informal forum not required under the constitution and is normally reconstituted every time a new finance minister takes over.

Federal secretaries of commerce, finance, industries and production, planning, national food security, revenue and textile division would also be ex-officio members of the EAC.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2018