The federal government decided Monday to replace Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and appointed Industry Minister Hammad Azhar as the new finance minister, sources said.
There is reportedly some resentment among government ministers about the issue of taxation and billing autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan.
The prime minister has reportedly told the finance minister to step down from his role and a notification regarding this is also expected to be issued soon.
The developments came after PPP candidate Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated Hafeez Shaikh for the general seat of Islamabad in Senate elections. Following the defeat, Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 6 ordered Shaikh to assume his duties as Minister of Finance.
Sources have informed Geo News that the prime minister, in meeting with the finance minister, expressed complete confidence in his abilities and asked him to continue his work.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he acknowledged the efforts Shaikh had made to improve Pakistan’s economy, the sources said.
They added that after the Shaykh’s meeting with the prime minister, he decided not to hand over his resignation.
In 2019, amidst a cabinet reshuffle, the Sheikh was appointed as Financial Advisor after Finance Minister Asad Umar submitted his resignation.
However, in December last year, the Islamabad High Court ruled that assistants and special advisers do not have the power to chair or sit on cabinet committee meetings.
The ruling noted that Article 93 of the Constitution allows the prime minister to appoint up to five advisers, but grants federal ministerial status to an advisor “only for the purpose of benefits and privileges” and “does not make the adviser such a federal minister”.
He went on to decide that an adviser “can speak in Parliament but cannot participate in the voting process”.
However, PTI found that it could remedy this difficult situation. The prime minister is empowered to appoint a person who is not elected as minister for six months under Article 91 (9) of the Constitution.
Under this allowance, a few days after the IHC decision, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was sworn in as Minister of Finance.
However, the Constitution states that at the end of six months the individual will “cease to be minister and will not before the dissolution of the Assembly be reappointed as minister unless he is elected to the Assembly”.
The article also stated that “nothing contained in this clause applies to Ministers who are members of the Senate”.
The government is looking for the results of a Senate poll to solve this puzzle, but the Shaykh lost to Gilani.
The sheikh still has until June – under a regulation that would allow him to become finance minister – to continue his duties in that capacity.