If reports appearing in the international media are accurate, the ruling PTI is all set to curb the independence of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) when it comes to determining monetary policy. This would be gross misstep. The idea being touted is the setting up of a committee of some sort which is to be consulted in the event of future planned currency adjustments. Indeed, there seems to be some confusion as to whether the government was kept in the loop in the run-up to last week’s devaluation; the rupee’s fifth in the last year. The Prime Minister maintains that he only came to learn of this upon seeing relevant media coverage. By contrast, the SBP governor insists that Finance Minister Asad Umar was in the know. The fallout of this apparent miscommunication is that that Imran Khan now wants to informed of such developments before they happen. It is quite possible that the PTI chief strongly believes in the old adage that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. But given that the country is passing through a phase where it seems to be a case of one step forward and two steps back — the risk is that the PM may want to have the final say. If this were to pass, it would be bad news for Pakistan’s economy in the long-term. For it is not in the democratic interest to have a central bank beholden to the government of the day unless in the direst of circumstances. This is to say nothing of the potential impact this would have on the current IMF negotiations. After all, a non-independent monetary policy will, at best, be frowned upon by the Fund. At worst, it could stall talks for a much-needed bailout package. Thus instead of establishing a body with which the SBP is to liaise on future currency adjustments — which would presumably have to secure parliamentary approval — the PTI would do better to focus on forming the long overdue National Assembly committees; particularly on finance. Upon taking over at the helm, there had been vague overtures of consulting with experienced opposition members on matters of national importance such as foreign policy. And as everyone knows, stemming a haemorrhaging economy is among the most urgent. Given that the Centre appears hell-bent on keeping political rivals away from IMF talks — the least it must do is provide a functioning mechanism under which all parties can give their input. No one is denying that Imran Khan and all his (wo)men inherited this economic crisis. But policy must go beyond finger-pointing and opting for short-term gains; such as calling on ex-pats to dig deep. It must include learning from the past while looking ahead. And this means giving the political leadership across great divide a stake in the financial future of the country. For this is one way of ensuring a process of transparent self-correction. What it does not require is a go-it-alone approach. Parliament must be on board at every step of the way; especially when it comes to clipping the wings of the SBP. * Published in Daily Times, December 7th 2018.