Govt aligns directors’ terms with World Bank, ADB election cycles

Step taken after Pakistan’s last representative on the ADB board refused to vacate post

Shahbaz Rana June 01, 2018
Step taken after Pakistan’s last representative on the ADB board refused to vacate post PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has shortened tenures of Pakistan’s current representatives at boards of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), blocking any possibility of manoeuvring by exploiting lacunas in election cycles of these organisations.

The government has aligned four-year terms of Pakistan’s executive directors at the World Bank and ADB with election cycles of these organisations, according to PM Office instructions. The ADB elects its board in July and the World Bank in November for four years.

The corrective step to align the tenures has been taken after Pakistan’s last representative on the ADB board refused to vacate the post despite expiry of his term.

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“All nominations by the government on the boards of directors of international organisations such as the World Bank and ADB, where organisational processes require country nominees to be formally elected by the board of governors, shall be synchronised with election cycles of the respective organisations,” said the PM Office.

The decision would immediately hit Pakistan’s current representatives at the World Bank and ADB. The PM has instructed the Establishment Division that the tenure of Shahid Mahmood, Executive Director of the ADB, must terminate on June 30, 2021 - about 10 months before the end of his original term of four years.

Mahmood had replaced Sami Saeed in April this year. Saeed had refused to vacate his post despite the end of his term in January 2018. He argued that the ADB board had re-elected him as the executive director/alternate executive director for two years with effect from July 2017 and his new term would end in June 2019.

President Mamnoon Hussain then withdrew the powers given to Saeed to represent Pakistan on the ADB board, which eventually forced him to relinquish the charge.

The PM Office noted that Saeed’s action caused “international embarrassment” for Pakistan.

In future, Pakistan will send its nominee for a period of four years. In case, a position falls vacant before the end of tenure because of any reason, the new appointee will serve only for the remaining period of the term, according to the PM’s instructions to the Establishment Division.

However, if the remaining period is less than six months, the new nominee will be sent for a period of full four years.

Under these new arrangements, Pakistan’s representative at the World Bank and ADB will now strictly serve for two years as alternate executive director and for two years as executive director.

In October, Abbasi had also appointed Shahid Ashraf Tarar as Pakistan’s Executive Director to the World Bank in Washington.

Tarar, who was serving as the National Highway Authority chairman, was sent for a period of four years. He replaced Nasir Khosa, former principal secretary to the PM.

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Now, the PM has also shortened the tenure of Tarar by more than one year. His tenure will terminate on October 31, 2020 as the World Bank’s election cycle starts from November every year. Tarar is currently serving as alternate director on the World Bank board. From November 1, 2018, his term as executive director will begin for two years.

The government had picked new executive directors of the World Bank and ADB under a new policy that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had changed to adjust bureaucrats after their retirement.

Earlier, these foreign posts used to be filled under a 2000 office memorandum of the Establishment Division. This memorandum had allowed the authorities to circulate any vacancy in international organisations, foreign governments and UN agencies among all ministries, divisions and provincial governments.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2018.

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