ISLAMABAD: The race for the coveted Washington-based post of Adviser to Executive Director of International Monetary Fund has begun.
The government has handpicked a panel of three candidates, all of them from the powerful Pakistan Administrative Services group.
A panel comprising Muhammad Saleh Farooqui, principal secretary to governor Sindh, Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh, finance secretary Punjab, and Naveed Allaudin, additional secretary finance of the federal finance ministry, has been constituted, said sources in the finance ministry.
Like the past, this time again the government has handpicked all three candidates from the all-powerful Pakistan Administrative Service, previously known as the District Management Group. A couple of them do not have the experience in handling external fiscal affairs, said the sources.
The post is vacant for over one year after Shahid Mehmood returned to Pakistan. After his retirement, Mehmood, also from the PAS Group, has again been sent on another prized posting of executive director to the Asian Development Bank in Manila.
The successful candidate will assist IMF Executive Director Jaffar Mojarrad, who represents a constituency of seven countries at the IMF’s executive board.
The government wanted to fill the post before the upcoming spring meetings of the World Bank-IMF. Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail will lead the Pakistani delegation. Now, Pakistan’s embassy in Washington has been asked to make arrangement for all three candidates.
Last year, the government had changed the policy for filling the lucrative foreign postings against the basic pay scales of 20 to 22. Now, the authority to fill these posts by handpicking people has been given to the prime minister. Earlier, these posts used to be circulated among all service groups. But the PPP and the PML-N government always violated this policy while appointing people at key posts in IMF, the World Bank and the ADB. Secretary Finance Arif Ahmad Khan did not respond to the question regarding eligibility criteria of these candidates.
Sources said that the case of Saleh Farooqui was strong due to political considerations. The finance ministry preferred Naveed Allauddin. However, Allauddin, who has the experience on budget and external finance, lacks leadership qualities, according to the people with whom Allauddin has worked in the past. Allaudin is good in doing the file work, they added.
Farooqui has served in the past as Old-Age Benefit Institute chairman employees and also headed the provincial disaster management authority. He does not have experience in handling external finance and international financial institutions.
Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh is currently serving the government of Punjab as the secretary finance. He did his masters in development studies from the United Kingdom and completed his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi. Yaqoob has also worked in the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, but he does not have experience in external finance.
Previously, Sheikh has served as secretary livestock Punjab, special secretary finance department, Punjab, and chief economist, Planning & Development Department, Punjab.
Pakistan was earlier represented in the IMF by towering personalities having PhDs in economics – like late Dr Meekal Aziz Ahmad and Dr Ihtesham Ahmad.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2018.