LAHORE: The PML-N MNA Rana Afzal Khan is set to become the next federal Finance Minister, it has been reliably learnt by Profit. Ishaq Dar’s ‘indefinite’ sick leave was approved by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi a week ago after the former had been away from the country for medical reasons and prior to that, while in Pakistan, was embroiled in graft cases against him.
Rana Afzal was elected as a member of National Assembly on a ticket of Pakistan Muslim League (N) from NA-82, Faisalabad, in Pakistani general election, 2013. In December 2013, he was appointed as Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation.
PM Abbasi was originally contemplating creating an Economic Advisory Committee (EAC) comprising of economists and technocrats that would report directly to him regarding economic matters of the country.
However, after instructions from party president Nawaz Sharif, it has been decided that Rana Afzal Khan be given the portfolio of finance minister as opposed to an advisor to the prime minister on economic affairs.
Other names were also being considered for the post including ex-Governor State Bank Ishrat Hussain and former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.
A media outlet had reported earlier today that Tarin had refused to become PM’s adviser on finance but while talking to Profit, he clarified that he was never a candidate for the position in the first place. Instead, Tarin was in favour of working in an EAC that would report directly to the prime minister but due to the development of appointing Rana Afzal Khan as the finance minister who would oversee the EAC, he bowed out.
When Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister in 2013 Shaukat Tarin served in an advisory capacity to him directly but the newly-appointed finance minister at the time Ishaq Dar was not comfortable with this arrangement and saw to it that he no longer had the PM’s ear. Since then Tarin has intermittently advised CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif on economic affairs.
Unimpeachable sources confided in Profit that the EAC will include Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, ex-President Bank Alfalah Atif Bajwa, and CEO Nishat Chunian Shahzad Saleem.