ISLAMABAD Jan 31 Pakistan's central bank has
appointed Ashraf Wathra, a banker with a wealth of international
experience, as acting governor, the finance ministry said on
Friday after its previous chief resigned in a row with the
government over policy.
The change in leadership comes at a time of chronic gas and
electricity shortages, violent crime and a Taliban insurgency in
Pakistan that have all hampered growth and contributed to
falling foreign investment in the country of 180 million people.
Yaseen Anwar stepped down as central bank chief on Thursday
citing personal reasons, with some officials pointing to policy
differences between the governor and the finance minister.
"Anwar's resignation has been accepted and Ashraf Wathra,
the deputy governor, will be the acting governor," said Shafqat
Jalil, a finance ministry spokesman.
A formal statement on Wathra's promotion was expected later.
Anwar and Wathra were not immediately available for comment.
The $255 billion economy grew 3.6 percent in the last fiscal
year, below a target of 4.3 percent and well below growth rates
of around 9 percent seen 10 years ago. Unemployment is
officially at 6.3 percent but is probably much higher.
After Anwar's resignation on Thursday, senior officials in
the finance ministry said the "personal reasons" cited by the
ministry were a cover for differences with Finance Minister
"They have completely different views on how to tackle
rising inflation and falling foreign exchange reserves," said
one official, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to
speak publicly on the issue.
Another official said Anwar was unhappy with last week's
appointment of Saeed Ahmed as central bank deputy governor.
Anwar was appointed central bank chief in July 2011 after
Shahid Kardar stepped down amid rumours that he had developed
differences with the finance ministry. Kardar's predecessor,
Salim Raza, resigned after 16 months in office.
Wathra brings 35 years of commercial and investment banking
experience to his new assignment and has worked at Emirates Bank
International, American Express and ANZ Grindlays Bank.
(Editing by Ron Popeski)