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Miftah Ismail likely to be named finance chief

Pakistan’s new government is likely to select Miftah Ismail as the new finance chief ahead of crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to two people familiar with the matter, reported Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif may name Ismail, a former finance minister, along with the rest of the cabinet within 24 hours, said one of the people, added the report. The government is said to be still in discussions to distribute portfolios and a final decision is yet to be made, said the people.

Ismail will be among the officials responsible for resuming talks with the IMF over the 7th review of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), where the previous government’s relief package, which included reducing petrol and electricity prices, remains a key topic.

This was stated by Ismail during a media talk on Tuesday along with Muhammad Zubair Umar and Musadik Malik, after they were directed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to place the economic statistics on record. He said in his opinion, the previous government’s relief package was inappropriate and may have to be revisited.

Pakistan plans to work with the IMF to stabilise the economy, Ismail had told Bloomberg News on April 12. The government will prioritise to reduce its fiscal deficit and stop a decline in foreign exchange reserves that will support the rupee.

Ismail had then declined to comment on his potential appointment, while ruling party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb and the Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ismail served as Pakistan’s finance head for a few months under the administration of then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in 2017-2018.

Indications of Ismail’s appointment include the nation’s finance ministry inviting journalists to a press conference by him on Tuesday and party leader Maryam Nawaz sharing on Twitter a picture of Ismail sitting next to Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday.

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