PM forms Punjab dominated EAC

PM forms Punjab dominated EAC

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has formed a new Economic Advisory Council (EAC), dominated by people from Punjab as well as industrialists, and also brought Jahangir Khan Tareen back to the corridors of power months after retiring from active politics.

The council lacks representation from all regions and key sectors of the economy and is made up of people closely related to the prime minister.

The Finance Ministry has notified the new council, which will be chaired by PM Shehbaz. Among its members is Salman Ahmad, whose consulting firm Mackenzie has won a multimillion-dollar contract for consulting services for the digitization of the Federal Revenue Board.

“The EAC will be chaired by the prime minister, who will hold its meetings as often as required,” the Finance Division said in a notification.

The Prime Minister’s Office does not set its terms of reference, which gives the body leverage to discuss and recommend anything related to the economy.

The PM’s office does not give due weight to regional representation and key sector representation is also not guaranteed, unlike in the past when the council had broad representation from regions and businesses. A key inductee into the council was Istahkam-e-Pakistan Party founder Jahangir Khan Tareen, who had retired from active public life after his defeat in the February 8 general elections.

The PM has appointed Saquib Sherazi, an auto assembler, as a member of the council. Shahzad Saleem, a textile manufacturer and energy producer, has also become a member.

Musadaq Zulqarnain, a prominent exporter and industrialist, was appointed as a member of the council. Zulqarnain is known for business innovation and growth-oriented policies. The prime minister has included Dr Ijaz Nabi as a member of the council. He has been advising Shehbaz Sharif for a long time, especially on economic status.

Asif Peer, Chief Executive Officer of Systems Limited, an information technology firm, was another member of the council.

Ziad Bashir, a textile manufacturer from Karachi, has also been appointed as a member of the council. He remained a part of many committees set up by former PM Imran Khan’s government and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) administration.

Salman Ahmed, Shahzad Salim, Musadaq Zulqarnain and Dr ljaz Nabi are also members of the EAC April 2022. The prime minister did not make any federal minister a member of the council. Due to the influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Pakistan’s economic decision-making, the council may not create any meaningful impact and its activities may remain limited to non-binding advisory services.

The finance ministry has already breached an Act of parliament by not seeking federal cabinet approval for the Budget Strategy Paper for the sake of the IMF.

When the cabinet and Senate have been ignored, the EAC may not be able to contribute to the ongoing budget making process.

The government has delayed plans to seek approval for the 2025-27 Budget Strategy Paper by May 10 – the statutory deadline outlined in the Public Financial Management Act.

According to the Act, the federal government must approve the Budget Strategy Paper, which contains measured macroeconomic and fiscal projections for the medium term, by May 10 each year.

The original deadline in the law was March 15, which was later revised to April 15 and then revised to May 10 through an amendment to the law. This deadline was previously relaxed on the grounds that next fiscal year’s estimated numbers would not be ready by mid-April.

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