Prime Minister Imran Khan reconstituted the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet and appointed Economic Affairs Minister Omar Ayub as the head of the committee replacing Shaukat Tarin.
The government on Thursday appointed former Minister of Finance Shaukat Tarin as the head of a sub-committee of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). In a move to sidestep a court judgment that blocks unelected members from leading cabinet committees, Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed Shaukat Tarin to make sure he remained part of the decision-making process.
The recently appointed finance adviser Tarin was required to be replaced with another minister as the ECC chairman following the six-month ministerial term that ended on October 15 due to PM Khan’s decision to not get him elected within six months. Earlier Tarin had been appointed finance minister for a six-month period with the PM’s promise to get him elected as a senator in an effort to make him a de jure finance minister.
According to the issued notification, the prime minister has been pleased to reconstitute the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet with immediate effect.
The notification further explains that Shaukat Tarin is not a member of the ECC instead he is among 22 special invitees.
According to a cabinet member, following the reconstitution, Omar Ayub headed the first ECC meeting with a 10-point agenda and astonished everyone with his first decision, except Tarin.
Ayub said that the technical committee would comprise federal ministers and secretaries and Tarin would be the chairman for it adding, “The technical committees are part and parcel of the ECC”.
Ayub further explained that the technical committee would comprise of Ministers for maritime affairs, planning and development, energy, and adviser to the prime minister on commerce along with two other cabinet ministers.
According to the arrangement, the summaries will first go to the ECC which will then forward them to Tarin’s committee. The Tarin-led committee will then refer the summaries back to the ECC with recommendations and the ECC would then refer these to the cabinet for verification.
A cabinet member said that the move was a mockery of the Islamabad High Court’s judgment and tantamounts to lowering the ECC to a rubber stamp of a financial adviser.
The sources said that Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid made objections to ECC chairman’s decision and said that making Tarin head of a sub-committee was not possible. He continued saying that if the meeting had been called to just announce the decision, then there was no need for the meeting. As per sources, Sheikh Rashid also warned that the decision to make Tarin head of ECC sub-committee can be challenged in the court. However, the Adviser to Prime Minister of Commerce, Razak Dawood, who is also ECC special invitee, said that the ECC sub-committee can be headed by Tarin.
Last year in December, the Islamabad High Court ruled that any executive function performed by an unelected member of the prime minister’s team would deem to have been taken illegally, without any lawful authority, and hence void. “Appointing an adviser with the status of a minister does not empower him/her to act or function as a minister or to perform functions under the Rules of Business 1973.”
The ECC meeting ended within 5 mins marking the shortest period of any ECC meeting.