ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday reconstituted the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet by appointing Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan as its chairman to replace Shaukat Tarin.
Mr Tarin lost the ministerial position a few days ago after his six-month constitutional term as minister came to an end owing to inability of the government to get him elected as member of the parliament. As such, he also lost a position in the 12-member reconstituted ECC that he led for six months since April 15 and would now attend its meetings on special invitation.
Under Article 91(9) of the Constitution, a minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the national assembly or the Senate is to cease to hold the office of a minister and cannot be appointed a minister again unless elected as member of the parliament.
Ayub made head of 12-member committee
The government had been dilly-dallying Mr Tarin’s election to Senate for months and then lately planned to get him elected as senator from Lahore against the seat of former finance minister Ishaq Dar for which it had also promulgated an ordinance. At the last moment it was surprised to know that the Senate seat from Lahore was vacant not because of Mr Dar but legal challenges in courts.
Informed sources said it was later decided that Senator Ayub Afridi would resign to create a seat for Mr Tarin in KP. Fresh surprises were in store — Mr Tarin’s national identity card has to be changed with an address in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa followed by registration in the voter list, to qualify for senatorship from that province. This would then enable start of the election process. These legalities are being addressed at present.
The number of the ECC members has now been declined from 14 to 12 as the position of minister for finance ended and stood vested in the prime minister himself while the portfolios of ministers for power and petroleum already stood merged into minister for energy.
All the other members of the ECC remained unchanged. These include the ministers for communications, law and justice, maritime affairs, national food security & research, energy, planning & development, privatisation, railways, industries and production, interior and water resources.
Meanwhile, the maiden meeting of the ECC presided over by Omar Ayub Khan was limited to ‘a brief introductory session” and did not take up a single item of the 10-point agenda, a senior official of economic affairs ministry said.
The agenda for the Oct 28 meeting included important subjects like Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2020-25, inclusion of beneficiaries under phase-II of Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme that prime minister is expected to announce next month.
Another important item on the agenda was fuel charge adjustments for November 2019 to June 2020 determined by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority besides extension of gas network or rehabilitation of network in oil and gas producing districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
An official said other agenda items were also expected to be taken up in the next meeting that included allocation of health contribution from revenue generated on account of health hazard tax on tobacco and sugar sweetened beverages to the Ministry of Health, changes to earlier ECC decisions and urgent decision relating to award of an international wheat tender opened on Oct 13 besides payment of late payment surcharge for operations of fertiliser plants on SNGPL network from September 2018 to November 2019 and a couple of supplementary grants.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021