'IMF accord should be presented before parliament,' says Umar after becoming NA panel chairman

Published May 13, 2019
Former finance minister Asad Umar was nominated for the post of the NA committee chairman last week. — AFP/File
Former finance minister Asad Umar was nominated for the post of the NA committee chairman last week. — AFP/File

Former finance minister Asad Umar was on Monday appointed the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance.

Umar — who was removed from the office of the finance minister last month — was unanimously elected after his name was proposed by PPP's Naveed Qamar and seconded by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dreshak.

Following his appointment, Umar said that the bailout agreement reached between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be presented before the parliament.

He said the government has to take practical measures in order to reach an agreement and therefore "the government should be questioned regarding this accord."

The former minister also vowed to inform the public about the discussions he had with the IMF regarding the programme before his ouster.

"What discussions were held with the IMF [and] what we have achieved through the programme [...] I will tell the nation about this," Umar said.

The decision to appoint Umar as the chairman of the NA finance panel was taken last week during a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling PTI held at Parliament House. Umar had later told Dawn that he himself had asked the prime minister to be given the committee's chairmanship "because I have some expertise in financial matters which I want to utilise".

He assured the committee today that no negotiations had taken place with the IMF regarding Pakistan's defence budget.

PPP's Nafisa Shah, who is a member of the committee, commented that the finance ministry was so far silent on the agreement signed with the IMF. She said Umar was part of the negotiations that preceded the agreement and he should, therefore, inform the people about the "facts" of the accord.

PTI MNA Faizullah, who was the previous chairman of the NA standing committee on finance, said all decisions concerning the economy should be made inside the parliament. He also demanded that the appointments made in the finance ministry be presented before the parliament.

Faizullah said Umar should have continued to serve as the finance minister.

Loaded with upfront policy actions worth over Rs700 billion, Pakistan and the IMF had finally reached a staff-level agreement on Sunday about a $6 billion bailout to implement an “ambitious structural reform agenda” over a period of 39 months.

“After negotiations over many months, Pakistan and the IMF have reached a staff level agreement that would be approved by the IMF executive board,” announced Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the Prime Minister’s adviser on Finance and Revenue, on national television.

Opposition parties have been quick to criticise the agreement, terming it a "complete sell-out of [the country's] sovereignty".

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