IMF expert Murtaza Syed takes over as new State Bank Governor

Reza Baqir’s term as SBP governor expires today: Miftah Ismail wishes new governor the best

By: News Desk
Published: 10:14 AM, 4 May, 2022
IMF expert Murtaza Syed takes over as new State Bank Governor
Caption: File photo of Dr Murtaza Syed.
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As the term of State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir has come to and end, SBP Deputy Governor Dr Murtaza Syed will take over as the new State Bank Governor, announced Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail in a tweet, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Miftah Ismail tweeted “As the term of Governor SBP Dr Reza Baqir has come to an end, as per law the senior most Deputy Governor takes over until. Therefore, Dr Murtaza Syed, an eminently qualified economist with rich IMF experience, will take over as Governor SBP. I wish him the best in his new role.”

Dr Murtaza Syed was appointed as Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan by the federal government for a period of three years, in pursuance of Section 10(4) of the State Bank of Pakistan Act 1956 (amended). He assumed his responsibilities on January 27, 2020.

Dr Syed has more than 20 years of experience in macroeconomic research and policy-making. He worked with the IMF for 16 years before resigning to join the State Bank of Pakistan.

Most recently, he served as Advisor in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, overseeing the planning and implementation of IMF training and technical assistance programmes around the world.

Earlier, he was Deputy Division Chief in the IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department and was involved in IMF programmess and surveillance of various emerging markets and advanced economies, including Colombia, Cyprus, the Euro Area, Japan, and Korea.

He also served as the IMF’s Deputy Resident Representative in China between 2010 and 2014 and as IMF mission chief to Macao. He started his career at the IMF in the Fiscal Affairs Department before moving to the Asia and Pacific Department, where he worked on a variety of emerging markets and developing countries.

Dr Syed started his career in the late 1990s as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Islamabad-based Human Development Centre under former Finance Minister of Pakistan, Dr Mahbubul Haq. Later, he worked for the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, the UK's premier public policy think tank, where he conducted research projects on business investment and employment behavior, as well as evaluating two large Latin American antipoverty programmes.

Dr Syed has a PhD in economics from Nuffield College at the University of Oxford. He has published papers on a variety of macroeconomic issues, including fiscal and monetary policy, financial stability, economic crises, investment, demographics, poverty and inequality. He has also delivered lectures on public policy at Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

Earlier, 24NewsHD TV channel reported that as the term of SBP Governor Reza Baqir expired the race for the appointment of his successor was on with four candidates leading the race but Dr Murtaza Syed's name was not in them.

The government has started the process of consultations and considering four names including Habibi Bank Limited (HBL) President Aurangzeb Khan, ADB Executive Director Noor Ahmad, former finance secretary Shahid Mahmood and Asim Meraj Hussain.

According to the 24New TV channel, the appointment of the new State Bank governor will be for five years.

Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced in a Twitter post Tuesday that State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir’s three-year term will expire on May 4.

The decision comes amid an economic crisis and political shakeup that ended the four-year run of former cricket star Imran Khan as prime minister. 

Reza Baqir, a former official at the International Monetary Fund, was appointed by Imran Khan’s PTI government in 2019. 

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Reza Baqir said “Alhamdulillah tomorrow I complete my 3 years as Governor of our central bank. Allah has been kind to give me the chance to serve my country in public office. To other fellow Pakistanis, especially overseas, I encourage you to consider public service.”

The new administration of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is seeking to restore assistance from the IMF, which has been in limbo since 2020 after the government failed to meet certain conditions. 

Talks are scheduled to start in May with the lender over conditions to unlock billions of dollars in loans, which may include doing away with subsidies on fuel and electricity, moves that could further stoke inflationary pressures but would help shore up government finances, said Bloomberg. 

The country faces dwindling foreign reserves, a falling currency and rising current account deficit. Baqir led the central bank’s decision in early April to raise interest rates by 250 basis points, the biggest hike since 1996, to help stem Asia’s second-fastest inflation.

Miftah Ismail said officials have had “positive” talks with the IMF for the resumption of loan The IMF has “largely agreed” to extend the current programme for another year, but details would be worked out during a mission visit to Pakistan in May.

Reporter Waqas Azeem