The government on Thursday removed Mohammad Younus Dagha as finance secretary weeks before the presentation of federal budget after Dagha developed differences with the finance adviser over the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
In place of Dagha, the government has appointed Naveed Kamran Baloch as new finance secretary. Baloch has served with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the past.
In February this year, Baloch had been removed from the post of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary. Later, he was appointed the Cabinet Division secretary. Dagha’s removal from the post was also not in line with the policy that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had made to ensure security of the tenures of federal secretaries. PM Imran had appointed Dagha as federal secretary two months ago.
According to the policy, a federal secretary will have a two-year secured tenure, but he can be transferred after six months if the government is not satisfied with his performance. Dagha was removed two months and two days after his appointment as finance secretary.
Only a ministerial committee can recommend the appointment or transfer of a federal secretary aimed at minimising political interference in administrative affairs of the ministries.
The government did not assign any new responsibility to Dagha and he has been asked to report to the Establishment Division. He has been removed just three weeks before the presentation of next fiscal year’s budget. The removal of the finance secretary is the third major change in the government in the past six weeks. Earlier, the government removed the finance minister and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor.
Dagha’s removal may also undermine the ongoing budget preparation as both the adviser and the secretary are new in the Q-block. Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday chaired a meeting to review the budget framework for the year 2019-20, which would be presented in the National Assembly on June 11. According to sources and media reports, Dagha did not accept some of the conditions that the IMF proposed for the $6-billion bailout package. Due to this, he had been sidelined during policy-level talks with the IMF.
They said the programme had been finalised by Shaikh, new SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir and IMF’s mission chief Ernesto Rigo.
Dagha is considered the best officer in the given lot of the federal bureaucracy. His appointment as finance secretary had been hailed due to his strong credentials.
In a separate notification, Naveed Kamran Baloch, previously posted as the Cabinet Division secretary, was appointed the finance secretary. Maroof Afzal, posted as the information technology and communications division secretary, has been made the new Cabinet Division secretary. The government, however, did not seek approval of the ministerial committee before appointing Baloch as the new finance secretary.
Baloch was among the three panelists along with Dagha and Shoaib Siddiqi when the ministerial committee picked Dagha as the finance secretary in March this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2019.