The new coalition Government of Pakistan on Thursday notified the formation of a 21-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review the country’s economic situation and propose macroeconomic stabilization and structural reforms for sustainable progress.
According to the notification announcing the constitution of the EAC, the forum would be convened once a week to debate on issues of national economic importance. It also provided the terms of reference for the EAC, noting that its scope of work would focus on reviewing the overall economic condition and proposing corrective measures in line with the country’s available resources.
The forum would also “analyze the effectiveness of subsidies, protection and other financial support by the government to state-owned enterprises and other vital sectors of the economy in context of overall cost and benefit analysis of such subsidies/protection,” it said, adding that it would also review the existing imperfections of various important sectors of the economy and seek to correct these distortions by promoting competition.
The EAC would “advised the government ministries, organizations, bodies and various project implementing agencies in formulating evidence-based policies,” it said, as well as helping find “the technical expertise and human resources that may be required to carry out the requisite financial and economic analysis/studies.”
The notification issued by the Finance Division said that the EAC would form specific sub-committees for “focused work with the timelines and defined scope.” It would also be empowered to co-opt “any other member” as and when necessary.
The 21-member body consists of federal ministers, economists, former bureaucrats, businessmen and bankers—Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhary, Miftah Ismail, Saleem Mandviwalla, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ayesha Ghous Pasha, Mussadiq Malik, Tariq Pasha, Mian Muhammad Mansha, Mohammad Ali Tabba, Arif Habib, Dr. Asim Hussain, Atif Bajwa, Faisal Farid, Aurangzeb of the Habib Bank Limited, Waqar Ahmad Malik of the Fauji Foundation, Salman Ahmed, Shahzad Salim, Rahman Naseem, Musadaq Zulqarnain and Ijaz Nabi.
Of the EAC’s membership, Arif Habib, Mohammad Ali Tabba and Ijaz Nabi were also in the forum created by the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government.
Immediately after being elected the prime minister, Sharif had met with his financial advisers and announced the intent to form an EAC to help steer the government out of economic crisis. Observers, however, have warned that similar forums have been set up by each successive government and they seldom show any results. The PTI-led government’s EAC had also proposed a road map for recovery, but was unable to implement most of its recommendations.