Pak appoints ex-IMF official as SBP head amid IMF talks

Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday appointed Reza Baqir, a Pakistani economist working for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), as the debt-ridden country seeks to finalise a bailout package from the global lender.

“The President of Pakistan is pleased to appoint Dr Reza Baqir as Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for a period of three years from the date he assumes office,” Geo News cited a notification from the government issued on late Saturday night as saying.

Baqir, a Harvard and Berkeley University of California alumnus has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2000 and is presently the Fund’s senior resident representative in Egypt. He has previously served as the head of the IMF Mission for Romania, and as Head of the Fund’s Debt Policy Division.

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His appointment comes a day after Tariq Bajwa resigned from the post of SBP governor.

Meanwhile, the Imran Khan-government has also appointed Ahmed Mujtaba Memon as the chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) following the removal of Jahanzeb Khan, the former chairman of the tax collection body.

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

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed Abdul Hafeez Sheikh as an Adviser to the government on finance in place of Umar, as inflation rose to its highest in the past six years.

The IMF is pushing Pakistan to embrace a more flexible rupee policy to end repeated boom-and-bust cycles, with many analysts arguing that the local currency is overvalued, Geo News reported.

In March, the Central Bank of Pakistan cut its economic growth estimates, forecasting the economy would expand 3.5 to 4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June, well short of a government target of 6.2 per cent. While the IMF showed a gloomier picture predicting the growth of 2.9 per cent in 2019 and 2.8 per cent next year.


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