ISLAMABAD; Oct 25, 2018: The Ministry of Finance (MoF) usually deals with subjects pertaining to the finance of the government and financial matters affecting the country’s economy as a whole. Ironically, the said ministry in Pakistan lacks qualified and skilled experts necessary to handle economic and matters affecting financial sector’s activities in the country, it has emerged.
According to a reliable source in the ministry cited by the Pakistan Today newspaper, Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a recent meeting, was surprised to know that the ministry had no macroeconomic expert(s).
“Like other ministries, the MoF, despite its importance, is being run entirely by bureaucrats and non-technical staff. There is not a single ministry official who holds a PhD degree in the field of economics and finance,” said the source on condition of anonymity.
However, officials at the ministry, the report says, claim that there exists a policy wing that is being run by economic experts. The wing, the source claimed, is merely a “research branch” having no role in decision making and implementation matters.
“The prime minister was surprised when he was informed that the ministry lacked macroeconomic experts. It usually asked the State Bank of Pakistan for help and guidance whenever needed,” the source revealed. “It seems that the bureaucracy at the ministry prefers to handover the economic matters to the International Monitory Fund after striking deals. When we start borrowing, the actual management goes in the hands of the IMF.”
Last month, PM Khan formed an ‘Economic Advisory Council (EAC)’ to advise him on financial crisis the country is beset with. Among those in the EAC, 7 belong to the government while the rest are from the private sector.
According to experts cited by the paper, apart from having qualified and skilled economic experts in the ministry, the finance secretary should also be at least a PhD degree holder with a vast experience of handling technical policy issues of the ministry. Unfortunately, they added, the secretaries have mostly been from the District Management Groups (DMGs) having no economic background and expertise.
It was learnt, that only Dr Waqar Masood –who served the Finance Ministry for a comparatively longer period of time –was a PhD degree holder with sound knowledge on economic management.
Presently, both the finance secretary and the State Bank governor are DMG officers, having not enough expertise and qualification in economic and finance to address the prevalent economic crisis. Both were appointed and posted by the previous PML-N led government, as the new government is reportedly unable to find alternates for the key posts, the paper wrote.
According to insiders, since the SBP governor had been involved in matters related to the previous IMF program, the new government is continuing till finalization of the next bailout program it seeks from the international lending body.
Apart from the shortcomings in the Finance Ministry, there is an economist group at the Ministry of Planning and Development that remains ignored in the economic management affairs, the report said. The group’s officers have been repeatedly denied their due promotions and postings.
The group’s officials were previously denied their due right of grade-22 and BS -21 posts, the highest pay scales in the civil service, keeping them under the rule of DMGs.
The economist group is one of the technocratic groups constituted under the Civil Service Reforms of 1973. The group is responsible for making annual and five-year economic plans – a job that has also been practically snatched by the Ministry of Finance, the report said.