Senator Shaukat Tarin has been sworn in as finance minister for a second time on Monday as the government scrambled to legitimise his authority.
Shaukat was first appointed finance minister on April 16 but his constitutionally permitted tenure ended on October 16, after which he was made prime minister’s advisor on finance and revenue.
The rules allow an unelected person to only hold the portfolio of a federal minister for six monthswithout being elected a member of one of the two houses.
By December 20, however, he was elected a senator from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on a seat vacated by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Ayub Afridi. Of the 87 votes polled, four were rejected and five lawmakers did not turn up to cast vote.
Afridi was later appointed the PM’s advisor on Overseas Pakistanis.
Earlier, the PTI government tried to have former finance minister Hafeez Sheikh elected to the Senate, but failed when he lost the seat to Yousuf Raza Gilani. Sheikh was appointed finance advisor in April 2019 after his predecessor Asad Umar resigned as finance minister. Sheikh was sworn in as minister in December 2021.
On March 28, he was removed from his post and replaced with Hammad Azhar who was given additional charge of the finance ministry.
Making Shaukat the finance minister became imperative for the government because he cannot take executive decisions as an advisor. This is because the Islamabad High Court had, in August 2020, declared that the PM’s advisors and special assistants cannot exercise executive or administrative powers.
“Appointing an Adviser with the status of a minister does not empower them to act or function as a minister or to perform functions under the Rules of Business 1973,” said the court in its verdict.
President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath at President House, Islamabad.
CREDENTIALS: Shaukat Tarin is a banker by profession and worked as the president of HBL in 1997. In 2000, he built Union Bank, which was later sold to Standard Chartered Bank.
He became a senator and federal finance minister in President Asif Ali Zardari’s government. As finance minister under the PPP, he signed the bailout programme with the IMF under which the government concluded the seventh NFC Award. However, he left the ministry without completing his tenure to start his own bank, Silk Bank, where he served at top positions.