'How can IMF negotiate with IMF?' Bilawal criticises Reza Baqir's appointment as SBP governor

Published May 8, 2019
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks to journalists outside the parliament on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks to journalists outside the parliament on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday criticised the government over the recent appointments of economic adviser, State Bank of Pakistan's (SBP) governor and Federal Board of Revenue's chairperson, questioning if the decisions were made on the dictation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Speaking to reporters outside the National Assembly, Bilawal said that the government had offered no explanation for the sudden changes. The PPP chairperson said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had appointed Hafeez Shaikh — who was finance minister from 2010-13 when PPP was in government — as the economic adviser "without even meeting him" and claimed that no one, including the premier, knew the reasons behind the change.

He specifically raised questions over the appointment of Dr Reza Baqir — an IMF economist — as SBP governor and asked: "How can IMF negotiate with IMF?"

"All of a sudden [after Shaikh's appointment], SBP and FBR heads are shown the door. The person appointed as SBP governor was previously receiving his salary from the IMF [...] no matter how good or bad [Baqir] is, there will be suspicion as to whether IMF is taking these decisions."

Also read: IMF employee's appointment as SBP governor akin to 'colonisation of Pakistan', says Rabbani

Bilawal admitted that PPP too had sought a deal from the IMF but insisted that his party had "never compromised on Pakistan's financial rights". He said that the PPP had started a "revolutionary programme" — the Benazir Income Support Programme — that created jobs, and raised salaries and pensions of government employees.

He criticised the government for "usurping the rights of labour unions" and warned that if the government fails to improve the economic situation of the country, opposition will be forced to protest inside and outside the parliament. He added that political instability in the country had led to economic instability.

PML-N decision 'not final'

In response to a question regarding PML-N's decision to change the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson, Bilawal said that the PPP had not been taken into confidence.

"They [PML-N] might not have had a chance," he said. "But yesterday one of their members said in the assembly that the decision was not final."

In a shocking move, the PML-N had last week announced that Shahbaz Sharif, who is Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, had stepped down as PAC chairperson and the party had nominated Rana Tanvir in his stead. Though the PML-N insisted that PPP had been taken into confidence, the latter said that the decision was "one-sided".

"We are surprised at the decision," PPP's Shazia Marri had said. "Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was present in the parliament. He was not informed and neither were the PAC members."

The announcement had attracted criticism from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as well, that recalled that Sharif had been appointed as PAC chairperson after a five-month deadlock as the ruling party was reluctant to give chairmanship of this vital parliamentary committee to the opposition leader contrary to the traditional practice. The PML-N had refused to nominate another member from the party to head the PAC, arguing that according to parliamentary tradition, the leader of the opposition should become chairman of this committee.

In his conversation with reporters today, Bilawal said that it had been decided in the Charter of Democracy that the opposition leader would be PAC chairperson so that the accountability process would be transparent and insisted that the practice should be upheld.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...
Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.