ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to seek services of former finance minister Shaukat Tarin following recent removal of Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh in an unexpected shakeup in the federal cabinet.
Sources in the government told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan was going to constitute a high-powered Economic Advisory Council (EAC) that Mr Tarin would head. The council would assist the government on economic issues, particularly in taking important decisions, the sources added.
It emerged that the government had also offered Mr Tarin to join the federal cabinet as special assistant or adviser to the PM, but he linked his joining the federal cabinet with the decision on an accountability reference that he has been facing for nearly a decade.
If Mr Tarin joins the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, it can be described as “Tarin will replace Dr Hafeez Shaikh as Mr Hafeez had replaced him during Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in 2010,” said a senior PPP leader.
Shaukat Tarin links his decision to join federal cabinet with NAB case disposal
When contacted, Mr Tarin confirmed to Dawn that he was going to head the Economic Advisory Council in next two to three days. “I will be the convener of the council,” he said, explaining that main duty of the council was to assist the government on economic affairs.
Responding to a question about government’s offer to join the cabinet, the former minister said he was offered the position for a second time but he would not accept it unless a case against him filed by the NAB was disposed of. “Earlier, Dr Hafeez had offered me to join the cabinet but at that time I gave the same reply that I cannot take this responsibility during my case,” he added.
Mr Tarin claimed that he had been facing famous Rental Power Project (RPPs) for past nine years despite his opposition to the RPPs. The ex-minister has been accused of approving RPP contracts in the NAB case.
Besides Mr Tarin’s likely inclusion in the government, another reshuffle is expected in the federal cabinet in a couple of days, as Prime Minister Khan is scheduled to chair the first cabinet meeting on Thursday (today) after recovering from Covid-19.
Presently, the prime minister has given an additional charge of finance minister to Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar and it is believed that after Mr Tarin’s induction, he (Tarin) would be the official in charge of the finance ministry.
Soon after his induction into the federal cabinet during the PPP regime, Mr Tarin was able to secure an $11.2 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when the country was on the verge of default on repayment of foreign loans. Later in 2010 he resigned for he had to raise equity from the market for his bank (Silk Bank). “I could not get the equity while working as finance minister because of a clear conflict of interests,” Mr Tarin had told Dawn soon after his meeting with the then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during which he had submitted his resignation.
The former finance minister is a cousin of senior PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, who is also facing inquiries in the sugar scandal of the present government.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2021