Dr Reza Baqir

Islamabad, Pakistan (BBN)– Pakistan government has appointed its central bank new governor to deal with the challenges of weakening economic growth rates and soaring inflation efficiently.

Dr Reza Baqir, a long-time economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been appointed as Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for three years a day after the removal of his predecessor Tariq Bajwa.

The President of Pakistan in pursuance of Section 10 (3) of State Bank of Pakistan Act 1956 was pleased to appoint Dr Reza Baqir as Governor SBP for a period of three years from the date he assumes the office, according to a notification, issued by the Finance Division, on Saturday.

Dr Baqir, a Harvard and Berkeley university alumnus, is currently the Fund’s senior resident representative in Egypt.
He has previously served as the head of the IMF Mission for Romania, and as Head of the Fund’s Debt Policy Division.

The government has also decided to appoint Ahmed Mujtaba Memon as the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman. The position fell vacant on Friday after the removal of Jehanzeb Khan, the chairman of the tax collection body.

The key appointments come only weeks after Finance Minister Asad Umar was asked to step down amid vital bailout negotiations with the IMF, suggesting the government wants to overhaul its financial team amid weakening growth rates and soaring inflation, according to Geo News.

The IMF is pushing Pakistan to embrace a more flexible rupee policy to end repeated boom-and-bust cycles, with many analysts arguing that the local currency is overvalued.

The SBP in March cut its economic growth estimates, forecasting the economy would expand 3.5 to 4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June, well short of a government target of 6.2 per cent.

The IMF paints a gloomier picture, predicting growth of 2.9 percent in 2019 and 2.8 percent next year.

Pakistan’s consumer price inflation in March rose to its highest since November 2013, hitting 9.41 per cent year-on-year, before easing to 8.82 per cent in April.