Who will make your tax money work?

Yesterday, the hot news was resignation of Shaukat Tarin, a banker,  from Ministry of Finance. Being a banker is no qualification for running the finance ministry, yet we have a precedence in Shaukat Aziz who was a banker (aka money launderer for dictators, tax evaders, etc along with some honest billionaires as well) as well. PPP has always been weak in the area of finance and it is understandable when they bring someone from outside who has some credibility to run the ministry.

Prior to this stint, Shaukat Tarin had made millions first in turning around Habib Bank and then offloading his non-performing commercial and consumer loan infested Union Bank to Standard Chartered when the Pakistani economy was at the peak of consumer debt fueled bubble.  What this shows that he is a shrewd and competent professional and has respectability in financial circles. By bringing him on board, government expected to deliver similar miracles for the economy of Pakistan.

Since his departure, a few names have been floated. From Cafe Pyala

Arif Habib CEO Nasir Baig, former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussain and former PPP finance minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin. From my sources, apparently, the President’s camp and the Prime Minister’s camp have their own favourites. Baig, who is incidentally the brother-in-law of Anwar Majeed, Zardari’s so-called right hand man (who is also related to Shaukat Tarin through the marriage of their offspring), and Shahabuddin are apparently in the President Zardari’s list, as is PPP MNA Naveed Qamar. PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s list, on the other hand, has, in addition to Hussain, current state minister Hina Rabbani Khar and economist Dr [Abdul] Hafeez Pasha [Sheikh]. Who eventually gets picked may indicate which way the wind is blowing. In fact, having one of Zardari’s nominees get the post would be no big deal. One of them not getting it, on the other hand, might be.

This is my take on the nominees:

After the privatization fiasco wherein Abdul Hafeez Shaikh begged government owned Etisalat to take over government owned PTCL (I thought privatization follows from the mantra that business of government is not business) on terms that were disadvantageous to Pakistan, breached conditions of bidding contract, I would think twice before appointing him anywhere in Finance.

We all know that Naveed Qamar can’t deliver. That is why Shaukat Tarin was brought in initially to advise him and eventually the prime minister.

Hina Rabbani Khar..you got to be kidding me…except for good looks, the lady has nothing going for her. With the exception for the budget speech in Parliament, she did not have to work a single day in her life.

Ishrat Hussain is a developmental economist and by the same virtue was unsuitable for the State Bank job. But since he came from IMF/WB and had an open mind (willing to learn and be corrected) he did well rather much better than what followed: Shamshad Akhtar who was not even a career economist having made a career in Operations at ADB and the current absent minded incompetent Salim Raza whose only qualification is relation to NBP president Ali Raza.

Nasir Baig …. I don’t know much about him. The rumor has it that the list of nominees is bad by design, to make it easier to appoint Nasir Baig who stands out as being ‘andhon mein kaana raja’.

In opposition, Ishaq Dar/Sartaj Aziz are relatively competent. Lets see which way the ball rolls.


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