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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

For the First time, Finance Minster out of CCI as Ishaq Dar is in

Shehbaz Sharif will lead the CCI, with all four chief ministers serving as members.

For the first time, the Foreign Minister has assumed the position typically held by the Finance Minister in the Council of Common Interests (CCI), as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sanctioned the restructuring of the council. Acting on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, President Asif Ali Zardari convened the eight-member council in accordance with Article 153 of the Constitution. Shehbaz Sharif will lead the CCI, with all four chief ministers serving as members. The recent notification also includes Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, and Safron Minister Amir Muqam among the CCI’s members.

The CCI stands as the principal decision-making body in the nation, addressing disputes between the federal government and provinces, notably concerning the allocation of natural resources. This shift marks another instance where Prime Minister Shehbaz has chosen the Foreign Minister over the Finance Minister for a particular responsibility. Just last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz established six distinct cabinet committees focusing on economic coordination, energy, Chinese investment projects, privatization, State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and legislative matters.

In a significant decision, Prime Minister Shehbaz retained control of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) while assigning Foreign Minister Dar to lead the Cabinet Committee on Privatization, traditionally overseen by the finance minister. However, following public criticism, Shehbaz swiftly reorganized the ECC, appointing Finance Minister Aurangzeb as its head.

Finance minster to visit US

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb is scheduled to visit Washington on April 14 and 15 for discussions with officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Addressing a gathering at the Karachi Stock Exchange, Aurangzeb emphasized the urgency of securing a new IMF program for Pakistan spanning at least three years. He highlighted the necessity of effective policies to tackle economic challenges and credited the recent IMF agreement to measures undertaken during the caretaker government’s tenure, contributing to economic stability.

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Aurangzeb outlined plans for privatizing struggling enterprises like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and improving airport operations, aiming to complete PIA’s privatization by June. Additionally, efforts are underway to reduce circular debt and enhance exports. The board of directors of PIA recently approved the government’s privatization plan, expected to yield $250-300 million, aligning with Pakistan’s pursuit of a new IMF loan program.