SBP autonomy was essential to stop political infiltration, claims Hammad Azhar

Bol News  |  Jan 18, 2022

Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar on Tuesday said that it had become essential for the government to introduce a law to make the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) autonomous to stop political infiltration.

The Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar addressed a presser after the cabinet meeting.

The energy minister said that the SBP’s board will be appointed by the federal government while the board will be empowered to remove the central bank’s governor.

He added: “The governor, deputy governor, and board of SBP will still be appointed by the federal government.”

Azhar said that the right to appoint the board members was earned by the government after ‘hard negotiation’ with International Monetary Fund (IMF).

#Live: Federal Ministers @Hammad_Azhar and @fawadchaudhry addressing a news conference in #Islamabad

— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) January 18, 2022

He added that heads of other regulatory bodies in Pakistan also enjoy the security of tenure like the SBP governor.

The energy minister said that the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government surrendered the powers of the federal government to the central bank’s board in a law it passed in 2015.

However, the incumbent government gained the power to appoint the board, he added and said the opposition would never tell that amendments it did for the SBP. He reiterated that SBP’s assets will remain the property of the centre.

“Pakistan experienced boom and bust cycles in economic growth because the SBP was not autonomous. I claim that the economic crisis of 2018 would not have occurred if the central bank had been autonomous.”

Read more: Fresh legislation to depoliticise central bank, says Hammad Azhar

Further, the information minister expressed concerns over the rising Covid-19 cases in the country, particularly Karachi and said that the vaccinated people are getting less affected by the Omicron variant.

Chaudhry said that the government imported vaccines for free immunisation of the masses which makes up a huge portion of the current account deficit.

He also expressed hope that the SBP bill will be passed from the Senate soon.

Read more: PTI govt has to repay $55bn loan due to bad policies of past regimes, claims Fawad

The information minister said that people associated with a certain business should not be heading the standing committees to avert conflict of interest. He said the federal cabinet has sent its recommendations to the Parliament in this regard.

Chaudhry added that Pakistan produced record urea this year but the crop yield also increased simultaneously which led to its shortage along with certain global factors like prices.

He said it would be the first year that the mammoth circular debt would starting reducing.

The minister said that the green cover of Pakistan is expanding while Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the completion of master plans of all big cities.

Answering a question, Chaudhry said the government wants to engage with the opposition on electoral and judicial reforms along with the procedure of appointment of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.

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