Pakistan names new central bank chief as new round of IMF talks start
Economist Murtaza Syed takes over from Reza Baqir after new government does not offer him another term
Islamabad — Pakistan named a deputy governor of the central bank as its new chief on Wednesday as the country restarts talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a stalled $6bn programme.
Murtaza Syed, an “eminently qualified economist with rich IMF experience”, takes over at the end of the three-year term of incumbent Reza Baqir, finance minister Miftah Ismail said on Twitter.
It was not immediately clear if Syed would be a long-term replacement or an interim appointment by the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, which came to power in April after ousting Imran Khan through a no-confidence vote.
The government had the option of offering another term to Baqir, who was appointed by Khan in 2019.
The appointment comes as Pakistan faces a number of economic challenges, including ballooning deficits and depleted foreign exchange reserves.
Pakistan’s new government has sought an increase in the size and duration of the IMF programme, which has been slow moving forward.
Increased autonomy for the central bank was among reforms agreed upon between the lender and Pakistan as part of the programme that began in 2019.
Legislation to ensure greater autonomy was passed earlier this year and includes insulating the central bank’s policymaking bodies from government interference and increasing the governor's fixed tenure to five years from three.
As a result, the next governor, whenever formally appointed, will have more autonomy and a longer fixed tenure than his or her predecessors.
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