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May 14, 2020

Composition of NFC: Private members have critical role to play

National

May 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Who’s who of the private members of the just-constituted National Finance Commission (NFC) headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his capacity of federal finance minister?

The key constituents of the 10th NFC are the four private members representing as many provinces, who have a critical role in articulating the views and interests of their federating units. The finance ministers, nominated for the NFC, come from political parties. They are elected representatives and most of them may not be public finance experts. They follow the directions of their respective political leaderships.

The private members are named for the NFC by the provincial governments after approval from their cabinets. They play an important role in achieving consensus on apportionment of federal taxes among the federations units.

Importantly, the 7th NFC award is still in field even over a decade. The compositions of the 8th and 9th NFCs were announced on the given time meaning after every five years as required under the Constitution, but they prepared no awards and only supervised the implementation of the seventh award.

In last (7th) NFC, celebrated economist Dr Qaiser Bengali, retired federal secretary Ghafoor Mirza, Senator Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party, and oil and gas expert Col (R) Dr Gulfraz Ahmed were private members to represent Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan respectively. Dr Gulfraz having Punjab domicile had presented Balochistan’s case.

In the present NFC, Tariq Bajwa, Dr Asad Sayeed, Javed Jabbar and Dr Musharraf Rasul Cyan have been nominated as private members to speak for Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and KP respectively. Of them, two members each are from Punjab and Karachi.

Musharraf Rasul Cyan, named by the KP government to present its case in the NFC, is former district management group (DMG) officer hailing from Mandi Bhauddin. In his formative years of civil service career, he served in KP as assistant commissioner in Swat, Batagram and Haripur. He also worked as the personal staff officer to Sardar Mehtab as KP chief minister in 1997-1999.

Dr Cyan was educated at King Edward Medical College and had done his PhD in economics from Atlanta University, USA. He had topped the central superior examination in 1991, setting a national record by achieving highest ever score in this competition.

After resigning from civil service, he has been working as public sector finance expert with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and UN Development Programme. He is presently the team leader on a UNDP project for governance of merged tribal districts.

Dr Cyan was appointed chief executive officer of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by the previous government in 2017. He was removed by then Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.

Sardar Mehtab, as federal adviser on aviation and Irfan Illahi as aviation secretary and PIA chairman are facing a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the orders of apex court for appointment of Dr Cyan as the PIA CEO.

Tariq Bajwa, a retired DMG officer, had been the Punjab finance secretary, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and federal finance secretary during the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

He was appointed the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan by the previous regime and was forced to resign by the present government when it wanted to bring incumbent Reza Baqir from the International Monetary Fund.

Tariq Bajwa is known as a tough professional and no nonsense type officer. It will be instructive to see how he will balance the demands of the provincial government and financial interests of Punjab.

Dr Asad Sayeed, a PhD in economics, who will represent Sindh in the NFC, specialises in socio-economic dimensions of Pakistan, poverty alleviation and public policy. He is part of a research think tank of Karachi.

Like KP, Balochistan has picked its private member from out of province. Javed Jabbar, former information minister, is a leading media expert and civil society activist from Karachi. He is founder of an NGO called Baanhn Beli. He has been a senator from Sindh. The present NFC formed with altered terms of reference is considered important by politicians and financial experts in which the private members would make a lot of input.

Meanwhile, an important clause of the notification issued by President Dr Arif Alvi constituting the 10th NFC is that he has authorised adviser to the PM on Finance and Revenue [Dr Hafeez Shaikh] to chair the NFC meetings in the absence of the federal finance minister [Imran Khan]. A tweet posted by former finance minister Ishaq Dar said that the president has violated the Constitution by appointing finance adviser as member of NFC and authorising him to chair meetings in the absence of the finance minister who is the prime minister.