Dr. Shamshad Akhtar has taken oath as new Federal Minster of the interim government and she has been assigned the responsibilities to look after Finance Ministry
Though her tenure is not too long but keeping view of her back ground and challenges to the economy of Pakistan one can hope something from her for the time being. She is a Pakistani development economist, diplomat and intellectual who served as a Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and as the head of UNESCAP. Prior to that, she served as the 14th Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, the first woman to assume this position. She also served as a senior adviser to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and the vice-President of the World Bank.
I have the blessing to serve under two prominent governors of SBP i.e. Dr Ishrat and Dr Shamshad Akhtar. Both were interactive but Ishrat Husain was and is a good administrator along with being an economist, Whereas Shamshad Akhtar was and is a very good economist. She served since December 2, 2006 to January 1, 2009 i.e. for 2 years, 31 days. Her brief period was due to the fact that on political end she was neutral with no affiliation to anyone. After she left, SBP saw 5 Governors, who all were not economists and all of them stayed for a brief period with 5th one still holding the charge.
One may remember that when Shamshad Akhtar came in 2006, Pakistan was on a hit of growing inflation and SBP had no option but to increase its discount rate that went from 10% in 2007 to 15% in 2008. So that was a highly challenging period. This inflation occurred due to the wrong policies of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Musharraf who opted to allow inflows during 2001-05 for consumer financing and for buying cars and luxury items from abroad.
During her stay she did not believe on formalities and always went direct decision. One day when I was sitting in my room and sipping tea she entered in my room without any notice and asked me what we are going to decide about T. Bill auction cut offs, that was held on that date. Auction Committee members were not even aware of her arrival so they came little bit late in my room but before that Shamshad Akhtar had made the decision by looking in to the figures and by taking my views and of head of Treasury over phone who at that time was in London.
Shamshad Akhtar belongs to rural Sind and hails from a middle class family so her actions always stand in the best interest of millions of people of Pakistan.
On 23 October 2007, Akhtar was conferred Best Central Bank Governor for Asia 2007 by the Euro money Institutional Investor. On 11 November 2008, acuter was named amongst the top ten women leaders in Asia by The Wall Street Journal
In 2009, she re-joined the Asian Development Bank as a senior advisor to Haruhiko Kuroda. She moved to Washington, D.C. to World Bank and served as the Vice President Middle East and North Africa. During this period she spearheaded the bank’s response to the Arab Spring and the Arab regional integration strategy and its implementation. In September 2011, she moved to the Nations to serve as the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Senior Adviser on Economic Development and Finance to the UN Secretary-General moon. In December 2013, she was appointed as the 10th Executive Secretary of UNESCAP in Bangkok.
In 2007 I was promoted as OG 6 equivalent to Director of my department. I remember that HR was hesitant in issuing my order so one day she met me in the lift and asked that what about my promotion order. On hearing the fact she said that today it would be out and same thing happened on the date.
In mid-2007 when I requested for early retirement she asked me to continue on contract and when I left in 2008, in a letter she remarked that Financial Market is going to take lot of benefits from me. Whether I proved to her words is still a question to me.
Now her entry again in to Pakistan arena is happening at the time when twin deficits i.e. Fiscal and current accounts have increased with oversizing of government debt. This is again pushing Pakistan towards high inflation.
Hence considering her two months’ time it would be better that she may lay down some frameworks to raise our revenue, control deficits and steps to make life easy for a normal Pakistani.
Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), former Head of FSCD SBP, former Head of Research Arif Habib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan.