MABAD- The government has reappointed the senior most bureaucrat, Dr Waqar Masood, as Secretary, Finance Division in place of Farrukh Qayum, who has been posted as Secretary, Economic Affairs Division.
The Establishment Division has issued the notification in this regard. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) Senator Ishaq Dar had brought Farrukh Qayum as Secretary, Finance in place of Dr Waqar Masood when the former was the Finance Minister. At that time Farrukh Qayum was serving as Secretary, Petroleum and Natural Resources.
Reliable sources told TheNation that Senator Dar had asked Dr Waqar to work as the Secretary, Economic Affairs Division but Dr Waqar did not accept the new assignment, as the EAD also comes under the Finance Minister and the latter had certain reservations. Then, Dr Waqar was made Officer on Special Duty (OSD). Dr Waqar will take charge of his new assignment today (Tuesday).
Political pundits are giving significant importance to new changes in the bureaucracy, linking this top-level reshuffle with forever adieu to PML-N by the majority ruling party.
Dr Waqar Masood is PhD in Economics from the United States and has experience to deal with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund with Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The sources said Dr Waqar Masood, who at that time was Special Secretary to PM, had difference with the then government on non-passing of increase in energy prices in international prices to the consumers.
The last government's politically motivated decision not only resulted into huge borrowings from the State Bank to give subsidies but also brought in major shocks in form of double-digit percentage increase in prices of petrol and electricity by the present government.
Dr Waqar's big challenge will be to bring essential reforms in economic policy framework and give a comprehensive strategy to deal the ongoing economic and financial crisis in place of existing adhoc measures.
The new Finance Secretary will have to prove his mettle. He ought to keep the budget deficit at the estimated level of 4.7 per cent of the total size of economy, which demands tough decisions of subsidies elimination. The international financial institutions will be eying the government's macroeconomic policies.
Another difficult task for him will be to take care of Balance of Payments and arrange financing to fill the Current Account Deficit when the country's foreign exchange reserves are dipping with every passing day and foreign investors are reluctant to invest due to the security dilemma. The forex reserves have come down to US $ 9.36 billion from US $ 16.4 billion in just ten months.
A number of high-level transfers in bureaucracy have been made during the last couple of months. Abdullah Yusuf was sacked as Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ahmad Waqar, Secretary, Board of Investment, was his successor.
The government has also appointed new head of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), Zaka Ashraf, who will take charge of his responsibilities on Wednesday.