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Task before Hafeez Sheikh

THE change in the Finance Ministry conveyed a vivid impression that the top leadership of the country was not fully satisfied the way the financial and economic policies were being pursued and the need for corrective measures to put Pakistan on the right track. The choice of Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, a renowned economist to head the Ministry as Advisor shows the Prime Minister was confident that Sheikh will deliver and rightly so as he has a proven background to run financial and economic affairs deftly.
There are positive indications that things are moving in the desired direction after assumption of charge by the new Advisor. Knowing well that there was no time to waste in view of grave challenges ahead, Dr Hafeez Sheikh established contacts with officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and received good response from these institutions for enhanced cooperation and contribution to the progress and development of Pakistan. An IMF Mission is due this month in Islamabad and it is hoped that concrete progress would be achieved in finalizing negotiations with the Fund as Dr Hafeez Sheikh has necessary experience to deal with global donors in a professional manner. It also augurs well that within days of his assumption of the charge, Pakistan has signed a trade financing facility amounting to $551 million with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITCF) for import of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). However, his real test would be the forthcoming budget as a balance has to be maintained between reforms and expectations of the people from the PTI Government. His Budget Strategy Paper would give an indication what he has in store to take the country forward and resolve its major economic and financial woes. Analysts believe that Dr Hafeez Sheikh would be able to steer the economy out of trouble as he proved his worth during his previous stints at federal level and as Minister for Finance of Sindh where he led the process of economic recovery successfully.