Finance secretary retires, but will be appointed Advisor to the Ministry of Finance

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided in principle to retain outgoing Finance Secretary Shahid Mahmood as Advisor to the Finance Ministry, a move aimed at ensuring smooth continuation of official work ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Mahmood will be appointed Advisor to the Ministry of Finance and a summary to this effect will be moved next week, according to officials in the finance ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. The seat has remained vacant for the last three years. Rana Assad Amin was the last advisor to the finance ministry who was subsequently appointed as the Auditor General of Pakistan.

Under this arrangement, Mahmood will be advising Dr Miftah Ismail. A few days ago, the prime minister appointed Dr Ismail as Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs. Once the government gets close to completing its term, Mahmood will be sent to Manila as Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank, said the officials.

Mahmood is considered to be close to Ishaq Dar and the government’s decision to avail his services after retirement indicates that the former finance minister still enjoys clout. The decision is also an indication of continuing the existing administrative arrangement.

The government wanted to retain Mahmood for a few weeks before his departure to Manila, said an official while explaining the new arrangement. They said the new finance secretary will take a few weeks to settle in and due to upcoming elections the government did not want to take a risk.

Prime Minister and members of the Economic Coordination Committee on Friday appreciated Mahmood for his meritorious services. Mahmood retires from service on January 6, 2018 (today).

The government has not yet announced the new secretary finance. Names of Jahanzeb Khan, Planning and Development Department Punjab chairman, Younus Dagha, the commerce secretary, Tariq Pasha, Federal Board of Revenue chairman, Arif Ahmad Khan, EAD secretary and Yousaf Naseem Khokar, Secretary Power, are under consideration.

A separate summary to appoint Mahmood as Executive Director in the ADB will be sent to the prime minister for his approval, said the officials. The summary carries a panel of three candidates. The other two candidates are Information Technology Secretary Rizwan Bashir, who is retiring next month, and Kamran Baloch, said the officials.

If approved, Mahmood will proceed to Manila after the return of the outgoing executive director Sami Saeed. Saeed is completing his four-year stint on January 31. Officials said that in case Mahmood stays in the finance ministry for a longer period than planned, Saeed may be asked to continue.

The executive director of the ADB represents a constituency of seven countries including Kazakhstan, the Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Timor-Leste. The ADB has a 12-member board of directors, headed by the bank’s president.

The Establishment Division on Friday notified transfer postings of seven federal secretaries. It appointed Samaria Nazir Siddiqui as Board of Investment secretary in place of Azhar Ali Chaudhry.

Chauhdry has been appointed as Secretary Capital Administration Development Division. Secretary CADD Nargis Ghallo has been appointed as Managing Director Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2018.

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Among the names mentioned in media as possible finance chiefs are Miftah Ismail and Sartaj Aziz

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