Pakistan Finance Secretary Latest To Be Sacked Amid IMF Bailout Talks


Pakistan’s Finance Secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha was sacked today, becoming the latest senior official to go amid the cash-strapped Imran Khan government’s tough negotiations with the IMF for a bailout package.

Mr Dagha was removed as the secretary finance, a notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat/Establishment Division said.

A separate notification announced the transfer of Naveed Kamran Baloch, who was posted as cabinet division secretary, to the role of finance secretary.

A high-level source told Dawn newspaper that Mr Dagha developed differences with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh over the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Dagha felt that the adviser had negotiated a bad deal for Pakistan,” the source said. The differences emerged in the last round of meetings with the IMF. 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 claimed.

Mr 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, the report said.

Mr Dagha took charge as finance secretary in March after the post fell vacant following the retirement of incumbent Arif Ahmed Khan.
Dagha”s removal from the post comes a day after Board of Investment (BoI) chairman Haroon Sharif, who was appointed eight months ago, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Khan.

“I have decided to step down due to personal reasons,” Sharif confirmed to The Express Tribune. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has replaced three secretaries of the BOI in the past nine months.

Officials said differences had surfaced between the BOI management and the new economic managers on the issue of arranging a meeting of the World Bank country director with the prime minister.

In early May, the government appointed Dr Reza Baqir, a Pakistani economist working for the IMF as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). His appointment came a day after Tariq Bajwa resigned from the post of governor of Pakistan’s central bank.

The government also appointed Ahmed Mujtaba Memon to the key post of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman, which also fell vacant after the removal of Jahanzeb Khan, the chairman of the tax collection body.

The key appointments come only weeks after Finance Minister Asad Umar was sacked amid vital bailout negotiations with the IMF, suggesting the government wants to overhaul its financial team amid weakening growth rates and soaring inflation.

Pakistan reached an agreement with the IMF on May 12 on a bailout package under which the country will receive $6 billion over three years.

The staff-level agreement now awaits a formal approval by the IMF board of directors in Washington.

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