All criticize the timing, none opposed to Asad Umar’s removal

KARACHI: Without opposing Imran Khan’s decision of removing Asad Umar as Finance Minister, the  business community, economists and analysts are unanimous in their stance that Asad Umar has been removed at a very bad time, as this would only increase uncertainty as well as hurt Pakistan’s image among the international community.[the_ad id=”31605″]Following massive currency depreciation, increasing interest rates and failure in talks with International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Asad Umar had been under increasing pressure as questions about his competence and handling of the country’s economic matters had surged.

Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Siraj Kassam Teli expressed concerns over the removal of Asad Umar from the office of Federal Finance Minister just before the Federal budget announcement. “Asad Umar cannot solely be held responsible for the prevailing economic crisis. He should not have left at this time as this is not the right time.”

President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Junaid Ismail Makda said that only the minister was not responsible but the entire finance team dragged the country’s economy to this stage adding the entire team including bureaucrats should resign.

It may be mentioned here as part of cabinet reshuffle, Asad Umar was offered Ministry of Petroleum instead of Finance. However, the ex-Engro refused any other portfolio. He will remain a PTI parliamentarian though.

The business leaders are also uncertain who would be the new minister or advisor, and the policy the incumbent would pursue.

Advisor to President FPCCI, Mazhar Ali Nasir said the actual reasons for Umar’s resignation were still not clear as it might be his personal reasons. “We cannot judge now whether it is a good decision or bad unless a new minister is appointed. The government should immediately appoint the minister or the advisor on finance as the federal budget is closing in and IMF’s team is due in late April.”

Nasir said if the incumbent minister/advisor brings improvement and restores business confidence, this would be considered a positive decision. “There is a sense of economic as well as political uncertainty among the business community and government should ensure consistency of pro-business policies.”

Economist Asad Saeed said it was a very bad timing for a finance minister to leave and the economic situation would likely go further south. “It would be better if he was removed couple of months earlier or may be in July after the budget. Umar and his team were negotiating with the donor agencies, and now the new minister and probably a new team would have to continue the process, which would not be easy.”

Saeed said Asad Umar and his team made many mistakes and aggravated the economic situation, “which I think would deteriorate further because of the timing of his removal.”

CEO Arif Habib Commodities Ahsan Mehanti said the market had closed positive on Thursday. “Although there is uncertainty in the market but, once the new name is announced there would be stability. Investors are waiting for the name announcement and I hope there would be positive developments overall once the name of new minister/advisor is communicated.”

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