Planning ministry’s chief economist in trouble for issuing irresponsible statements

Planning Commission nominates Hassan Duad as CPEC spokesperson

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform has nominated Hassan Daud as Spokesperson on matters related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) after an irresponsible statement issued by Ministry of Planning’s chief economist saying that China should rescue Pakistan with an interest-free loan as otherwise “for what do we have this friendship”.

Notification available with Pakistan Today that the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms is pleased to nominate CPEC Support Project Director Hassan Daud as Spokesperson on matters related to CPEC.

“He is authorised to issue statements on status of CPEC projects to all forums if required after due approval”, all concerned including Centre of Excellence CPEC (PIDE) are advised to acknowledge this in view of importance and coherence of CPEC arrangements moreover any officials participating in CPEC related events should coordinate with CPEC secretariat for updated information on all CPEC related activities.

Foreign Affairs secretary on July 26 wrote a letter to finance minister regarding a news article published in the Wall Street Journal on CPEC.

The letter stated that our mission in Beijing has reported that in a news article on CPEC published by the Wall Street Journal, the author, Jeremy Page has quoted our Chief Economist (Ministry of Planning), as saying that China should rescue Pakistan with an interest free loan as otherwise “for what do we have this friendship”.

These are highly irresponsible remarks, purportedly made by a senior government official. Keeping in view the sensitivity of the issue and critical nature of our relations with China, there is an urgent need to devise a system whereby all government functionaries are stopped from giving unauthorised comments, the letter advised, moreover, if they do so, they should be held accountable as such utterances have the potential to cause serious damage to our relationship with China.

Our mission in Beijing has suggested that the government may consider issuing a circular to all ministries, specifically directing government functionaries to desist from making public comments on Pakistan-China relations and CPEC. It should be clarified to all ministries in categoric terms that only authorised officials of the ministry of foreign affairs and ministry of planning have the competence to comment on these aspects, after seeking clearance from their minister in charge.

Muhammad Nadeem Javaid was appointed as the Chief Economist by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2014, while the appointment was criticised by the media over the easing of rules to make the appointment.

The government relaxed the experience condition from 25 years to 15 years. According to original job requirements, which were subsequently amended, the chief economist was also required to have at least 10 years of experience in economic policymaking.

The senior most officer of the Economist Group, Ijaz Wasti had challenged his appointment in Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the court even ordered Javaid to halt his duties.

According to sources, Wasti was pressurised by some senior government officials to either withdraw the case or get ready to be transferred to Balochistan. Subsequently, Wasti caved in to the pressure and withdrew the case.

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