ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to appoint two eminent professionals on the central board of directors of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) aimed at strengthening the panel that is responsible for policymaking, except the monetary policy.
The Ministry of Finance has finalised the names of Atif R Bokhari, a banker, and Dr Zubair Khan, an economist, for the slot of SBP directors, said officials in the ministry. Their names will now be recommended to the federal cabinet for approval. After the August 2016 judgement of the Supreme Court, every appointment by the federal government has to be first approved by the federal cabinet.
The two will be appointed in place of Zafar Masud and Mohammad Riaz. Masud had left in 2016 after he was appointed Director General of Central Directorate of National Savings. Mohammad Riaz, a retired bureaucrat, has tendered his resignation.
Riaz belongs to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in order to fulfil a statutory requirement, Dr Zubair Khan has been picked from the same federating unit.
The board comprises 10 members including the SBP governor, finance secretary and eight directors, including at least one from each province. The State Bank of Pakistan Act 1956 states the directors “shall be eminent professionals from the fields of economics, finance, banking and accountancy, to be appointed by the federal government. Those appointed to the board shall have no conflict of interest with the business of the bank”.
All the existing members of the SBP board shall stand retired in March next year, which will also allow the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to bring more professionals on the board. Some of the existing members had been appointed due to their proximity with the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
The board has powers to define and determine policies of the bank regarding the execution of its functions, and approve internal rules for their implementation; and oversee foreign exchange reserve management and approve strategic investment and risk policy.
The board is also responsible for submitting a quarterly report to parliament on the state of the economy with special reference to economic growth, money supply, credit, balance of payments and price development.
The officials said there was also a need to revamp the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the SBP as some of the members had been appointed due to their relations with the Q Block bureaucracy.
The PTI government has already reappointed Jameel Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the SBP after removing him from the office on October 4.
He had been removed along with eight heads of banks, members of Competition Commission and anther deputy governor of the SBP on the allegation that these people had been appointed by former finance minister by overstepping his authority.
Ahmad had been appointed as deputy governor on April 11, 2017. Now he has been appointed again for a full term that will end in October 2021. Ahmad has been working with the central bank for almost 27 years.
The federal government did not restore the other deputy governor.
It has also appointed Dr Vidya Khalil as acting chairperson of Competition Commission of Pakistan after removing her from the office of the chairperson.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2018.