Planning Commission (PC) Deputy Chairman Nadeemul Haque saved himself from further embarrassment by forcing his friend Jaffer Qamar to resign from the post of Chief Economist after his remarks on files and in meetings started raising doubts over his competence and qualifications in the minds of officials.
An official source said Haque had especially flown his friend from the US in August last year to be appointed Chief Economist on MP-1 salary grade which was officially a grade 22 post for the economic group civil servants. The appointment was made without any advertisement or merit. Qamar was unavailable for comment.
The source said the chief economist had left dumbstruck a recent meeting of the cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee in which he expressed reservations on the large scale manufacturing data, calling it incorrect. Some of the ministers expressed concern over his competence, which raised concern among the finance team.
The source said the chief economist had given no input in the drafting of important policies of the Planning Commission (PC), as was evident from the absence of his name in the list of authors of the commission’s much touted New Growth Strategy document. Neither did he speak at the recently-held international conference organised by the commission. He was quite popular in bureaucratic circles for his comments on files which were forwarded through text messages, the source said, adding that the most funny was why the fiscal deficit was not equal to primary deficit.
Due to talk in the bureaucratic circles on the CE’s incompetence, the deputy chairman had asked him to resign two months ago. He wanted to avoid embarrassment by removing him, as it would have raised Top PC official
questions as to why had Haque “imported” him when numerous competent economists were available in the government service.
By bringing an outsider, the deputy chairman had cleverly avoided a head on clash, as a career civil servant would have never agreed with many of his ideas and policies, resulting in a tussle between the deputy chairman and the chief economist. He also kept vacant the post of deputy chief economist to avoid any questioning of his policies. Haque had been stressing a complete reform, especially in the bureaucracy by inducting young professionals in the government sector. The source said the dominance of retired bureaucrats at the PC had resulted in the exit of all young and competent officers to other departments, as only retired bureaucrats were enjoying hefty salaries, luxury vehicles and various projects to accommodate their relatives.
He said the government was claiming austerity but the planning commission was incurring thousands of rupees on official meetings held in five star hotels. The expenditures under the incumbent deputy chairman had nearly doubled. New posts were being created to accommodate favourites without any advertisement and merit.
Someone needs to take Nadeem Ul Haque to task also. He may be articulate and a Hafiz of the works of Jane Jacobs, but I have been seeing this man in operation for over seven years and have yet to see him deliver anything.
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