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Is Finance Minister Asad Umar helpless in introducing new economic model?

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Faisal Ali Ghumman

As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) has completed almost its 100 days in power, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team seems engulfed with certain controversies beginning from every-day governance to the economy.

The people of Pakistan initially assumed Mr Khan has only a couple of ministers in his team who are capable of introducing and implementing reforms.

Among them was Asad Umar who was assigned one of the key portfolios of finance, revenue and economic affairs ministry. It was being much anticipated that Mr Umer, who has run companies like Engro Corporation and has deep insight into economic issues during academic chats, might come to the rescue to ailing economic health of the country.

While the government has just completed its 100 days, the state of economy appears to be on further decline.

The worsening balance of trade and current account deficit, rising inflation, external debt pressure, stock market crisis, growing US dollar- Pak rupee rate disparity, hike in power and gas tariff etc are the gifts of Mr Umar’s ministry.

In power since July elections 2018, Khan’s administration is scrambling for funding after inheriting a depleted treasury. Yet discussions with the IMF to help plug in a gap of at least $12 billion stalled last month after disagreements with the Fund over a raft of policy measures.

The foreign exchange reserves have dwindled to a four-and-a-half year low and the current-account deficit continues to widen. Mr Khan has also yet to receive any calculated amount of loaning from China and Malaysia despite his recent state visits.

Is Finance Minister Asad Umar helpless in introducing new economic model?

Muhammad Faisal Ali Ghuman Country Editor

The discussions have started on social media, news channels and in general public that as how one can differentiate Mr Khan’s economic policies with the previous regimes of PML-N and PPP? There is apparently nothing new in the current economic model and Mr Umar is seen defending the PTI’s policies at public and media forums.

The strong rumours earlier prevailed that the prime minister might remove Umar from the finance minister’s post keeping in view the deteriorating economic imbalances, but the cabinet meeting Mr Khan chaired on Thursday reposed confidence in the finance minister and his team.

Asad Umer too has himself rejected the rumours. But the question arises in the minds of people that what economic model the minister can pursue?

An 18-member Economic Advisory Council constituted by the PTI government in September this year has yet to work on economic reforms. No good news from the council that has already got involved in religiously-provoked controversies.

It seems that any action announced by the prime minister, his cabinet and the finance ministry face opposition by one or the other stakeholders of the state.

When the world is going to have worst-ever period of economic downturn owing to global trade wars, the PTI government needs to come out with a unique nation-saving plan and people also have moral obligation to extend all possible support to the government for economic development of the country.

The replacement of Asad Umar with any other person is not the solution to the problem as more and more experiences will show inconsistent attitude.

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