Finance minister reshuffles heads of three divisions

Changes come hours prior to a high-powered board meeting

Our Correspondent February 11, 2017
Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has reshuffled operational heads of his three important divisions but again left the post of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman vacant.

It was the second reshuffle in the divisions under the control of Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Privatisation and Statistics Ishaq Dar in the last one week. Except for Privatisation, Dar has replaced the federal secretaries of all other four divisions under his direct control.

The big surprise came on Thursday when just a couple of hours before the scheduled meeting of a High Powered Board, the government notified Tariq Bajwa as Secretary Revenue Division in addition to his own responsibilities of Secretary Finance Division. Bajwa had been appointed Secretary Finance Division last week.

It is rare that Secretary Revenue Division and FBR chairman portfolios are designated to two different persons. Usually, the FBR chairman is the Secretary Revenue Division. Dr Mohammad Irshad - a grade 22 officer - was assigned the “look after” charge of chairman of the FBR, which is without any power.

Last time, during the PPP tenure, the post of the Secretary Revenue Division had been briefly held by the then Finance Secretary Salman Siddique.

The government has not appointed a permanent FBR chairman after the retirement of Nisar Mohammad Khan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif heads the High Powered Board and its meeting had been called to promote officers from Grade-21 to the highest rank of grade 22. The High Powered Board promoted Tariq Pasha, the Special Assistant to Finance Minister, to the highest grade 22 along with one and a half dozen officers from various service groups, said sources.

After his elevation to the top, the government on Friday appointed Tariq Pasha as Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD). The EAD is the window to deal with external lenders and donors. Dar has appointed his right hand to head this important division.

Before his appointment as EAD Secretary, Dar had given the additional charge of Secretary Statistics Division to Tariq Pasha. The post of Secretary Economic Affairs Division was vacant after appointment of Tariq Bajwa as Secretary Finance. Pasha originally belongs to the Inland Revenue Service but he had been merged in to Secretariat Group.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.

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