Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday announced that the three-year term of Dr Reza Baqir as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has come to an end, ruling out any extension for the PTI appointee.
In a tweet, Ismail said that Dr Baqir’s term expired on May 4. “As per law the senior most Deputy Governor takes over until [a decision is made on a new governor].”
“Therefore, Dr Murtaza Syed, an eminently qualified economist with rich IMF (International Monetary Fund) experience, will take over as Governor SBP. I wish him the best in his new role,” the finance minister said.
According to the SBP, Dr Murtaza has more than 20 years of experience in macroeconomic research and policy making and worked with the IMF for 16 years before resigning to join the SBP.
Dr Murtaza has a PhD in economics from Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and has delivered lectures on public policy at Cambridge and Oxford universities.
Ismail had indicated a day ago in a tweet that the government would not be extending Dr Baqir’s tenure.
“I want to thank Reza for his service to Pakistan. He is an exceptionally qualified man & we worked well during our brief time together. I wish him the very best,” the minister had added.
The government is yet to announce the appointment of the new SBP governor.
Following Ismail’s announcement, Dr Baqir, in a series of tweets, thanked Allah and his fellow team members for giving him a chance to serve in the public office. “To other fellow Pakistanis, especially overseas, I encourage you to consider public service,” he said.
The former governor also recalled the initiatives the SBP took during his tenure, such as Covid relief packages which included Rozgar payroll loans and hospital financing, Roshan Digital Account, Raast, a framework to licence digital banks in Pakistan, financial inclusion for women, affordable mortgages for lower-income groups and others.
“I want to especially thank Deputy Governors and SBP Corporate Management Team for your teamwork and support. I also want to thank the 4 Finance Ministers and 5 Finance Secretaries I worked with over my 3 years,” he continued.
Dr Baqir said that Pakistan faced several challenges but also possessed “great strengths” to counter them. “I am confident and hopeful that we as a country will make the right choices to overcome the challenges ahead of us,” he added.
Who is Reza Baqir?
Dr Baqir, a long-time economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was appointed as the governor of the central bank by President Arif Alvi on May 4, 2019.
The IMF website lists him as the Fund’s current Senior Resident Representative for Arab Republic of Egypt.
He had previously served as the Head of Mission for Romania at the IMF following his appointment in January 2016, according to the Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan.
As per his executive profile posted by Bloomberg, Dr Baqir has been with the IMF since 2000 as the head of the Debt Policy Division.
A graduate of Harvard University, he later obtained a PhD in economics at the University of California, Berkeley. The former SBP governor has also worked with the World Bank, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Union Bank of Switzerland.