PM removes Aurangzeb from ECNEC chairmanship

Premier becomes head of committee, includes Ishaq Dar as member

Our Correspondent June 15, 2024
PM removes Aurangzeb from ECNEC chairmanship


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday removed Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb from the chairmanship of yet another important body responsible for economic decision-making, named the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).

The PM has himself kept the chairmanship of Ecnec after attempts to make Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar the head of the committee. However, Dar was included as a member of Ecnec.

The Cabinet Division notified the composition of Ecnec – a committee of the National Economic Council (NEC), which is mandated to take decisions on economic and development plans.

PM Sharif will be the chairman of Ecnec and its members will be Ishaq Dar, Muhammad Aurangzeb and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

In order to include the PM and the foreign minister, the minister for communication and the minister for commerce have been excluded from the committee. Ecnec has a total of eight members – four from the centre and one each from four provinces. It is the second time when Aurangzeb has been denied the right to act as the chairman of an important economic decision-making body. Earlier, the PM made Dar the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation.

When contacted, Dar said that he was not interested in becoming the chairman of Ecnec.

However, he has been advising the government on many important economic matters. The PM had also desired that Dar should accompany the economic team during a briefing to the military authorities on the budget and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. But Dar skipped the briefing.

Earlier, the PM retained the chairmanship of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). But after a story published in The Express Tribune, he returned the chairmanship to Aurangzeb.

When contacted, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that it would not be for the first time that the PM would chair Ecnec meetings. He said that in the past Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the prime minister had chaired Ecnec meetings.

The Cabinet Division also notified the four members of Ecnec from the federating units. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Senior Minister for Planning from Punjab, was notified as Ecnec member.

From Sindh, Jam Khan Shoro, from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Adviser to Chief Minister Muzammil Aslam and from Balochistan, Finance Minister Shoaib Nosherwani were made Ecnec members.

Ecnec has the mandate to approve mega development projects of Rs10 billion or more. In its maiden meeting, Ecnec is expected to take up the $6.7 billion Mainline-I railway project, $2 billion Karakoram Highway project along with other mega schemes approved by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) but awaiting the final nod of Ecnec.

Sources said that the finance ministry was not in favour of allocating more than Rs1 trillion for the federal development spending in the next fiscal year. However, after intervention by the PM, the amount was first increased to Rs1.5 trillion and then adjusted to Rs1.4 trillion.

The additional Rs400 billion forced the finance ministry to suggest an equal amount of additional taxation measures that led to the politically unpopular decisions of increasing the tax burden on the salaried class, slapping 18% tax on the sale of milk, increasing the tax on cement and imposing excise duty on homes, plots and plazas.

Although the finance minister will be a member of Ecnec, he would not be having the final say in matters that will have serious implications for the budget.

There has been a tendency in the Planning Commission to approve mega projects without due diligence. Ecnec is a check on such decisions.

The government has allocated 19% of the next fiscal year’s development budget for the new development schemes.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ