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Board of Invest­ment chairman quits, finance secretary also set to be replaced

Updated May 23, 2019

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Board of Invest­ment (BoI) chairman Haroon Sharif, who was appointed eight months ago, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy Haroon Sharif Twitter
Board of Invest­ment (BoI) chairman Haroon Sharif, who was appointed eight months ago, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy Haroon Sharif Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Board of Invest­ment (BoI) chairman Haroon Sharif, who was appointed eight months ago, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. Later in the day reports emerged that Secretary Finance Younus Dagha is also likely to be replaced within days.

A high-level source familiar with these developments told Dawn that Mr Dagha had developed differences with Adviser to PM on Finance Hafeez Shaikh over the negotiations with the IMF. “Dagha felt that the adviser had negotiated a bad deal for Pakistan,” the source says. The differences emerged in the last round of meetings with the IMF.

Read: Pakistan reaches agreement with IMF, to receive $6 billion over 3 years

“The team led by former finance minister Asad Umar, of which Dagha was an important part, had softened the IMF programme in significant ways,” the source claims. Shaikh wanted the programme to be “front loaded”, meaning most of the difficult reforms to be done upfront rather than lagged out over a period of time. This is what created differences between them, reaching to a point where Dagha did not participate in the last few rounds with the IMF before the programme was finalised.

Differences over priorities of IMF programme lie behind developments

Meanwhile, in a brief chat with Dawn, Haroon Sharif said that the main reason behind his resignation was that the government had brought in a new economic team whose entire focus was on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, thus, all the good work done over the months for promoting investment in the country was “no longer in their focus”.

“After months of hard work, time has come when negotiations for foreign investment in Pakistan have entered the final stage before conclusion, but the appointment of the new economic team and negotiations with the IMF have put my work on the back burner” Mr Sharif told Dawn. “Investors do not wait; if not Pakistan, they will move to another place,” he said.

Mr Sharif said that he thought it was the right time to resign before being blamed for poor results.

The Board of Investment was one of the lead agencies coordinating the work around the Special Economic Zones under CPEC. He also prioritized the improvement of Pakistan’s ranking in the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and diversify the investor-base in information technology, food processing, value-added textiles, hospitality and tourism sectors.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2019