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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Picking finance minister quite a task for new govt

The portfolio of the upcoming finance minister will not be a bed of roses at all

By Mehtab Haider
February 20, 2024
An aerial view of the National Assembly of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File
An aerial view of the National Assembly of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In the aftermath of formation of the upcoming government, the most crucial portfolio among federal ministers will be selection of the new finance minister who will have to clinch fresh deal with the IMF to ward off danger of default.

The portfolio of the upcoming finance minister will not be a bed of roses at all because he will have to tackle three immediate major challenges including completion of ongoing IMF programme then negotiating a staggered deal with the IMF and thirdly presenting as well as getting approval of the next budget 2024-25 in line with the IMF programme conditions.

If the PMLN along with other allies forms the government in Center then Ishaq Dar will be the top contender for the portfolio of the Finance Ministry but he will have to choose between the portfolio of Finance Minister and Senate chairman. Other contenders in the race of assuming the slot of finance minister included Sultan Ali Allana and Aurangzeb as both belonged to banking sector.

Sultan Allana was earlier considered for caretaker minister for finance twice in 2018 and 2023 but on both occasion the incumbent caretaker Minister for Finance Dr Shamshad Akhtar managed to secure the positions.

If Ishaq Dar becomes the finance minister he will have to show lenient attitude for negotiating a good deal with the IMF. He will have to abandon his hard line on exchange rate policy and many other tough decisions to solace the IMF. Secondly, Ishaq Dar will have to accept enhanced domain of the SIFC in the policy making process. In case Ishaq Dar becomes the choice of the newly formed as minister for finance then he might prefer to choose Tariq Bajwa as advisor to minister for finance.

Azhar Bilal Kayani, who has won NA elections from Jhelum, might be given the portfolio of minister of state in any important economic or energy ministries.

Now Sultan Ali Allana has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors of HBL since the privatization of the Bank in February 2004. He is a career banking professional with nearly 40 years of experience in retail, corporate, and investment banking.

Allana is also a Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) and has the oversight responsibilities for AKFED’s investments in banking, insurance and aviation.

Allana holds Undergraduate and Post Graduate degrees from McGill University and the University of Wisconsin in Engineering and Management.

Muhammad Aurangzeb joined HBL on 30 April 2018 as the President & CEO. Prior to this responsibility at HBL, Aurangzeb was the CEO for JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Bank based in Asia, with a rich international banking experience of over 30 years in other senior management roles at ABN AMRO and RBS based in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Aurangzeb is the only Pakistani to be invited to the exclusive membership of the Global CEO Council organized by WSJ/DowJones group, and has been elected as the Chairman of the Pakistan Banks’ Association and Director of the Pakistan Business Council. Aurangzeb received his BS and MBA degrees from The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania).