x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pakistan's 54-member cabinet resigns to make way for smaller version

Prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is to trim the size of his cabinet, one of the largest in the world, to save money as Pakistan struggles to pay down its bills and depends on an IMF loan programme.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan's federal cabinet resigned yesterday to allow the prime minister to set up a new, smaller cabinet and reduce government expenditure, officials said.

Opposition parties have long demanded that Yusuf Raza Gilani trim the size of his cabinet, one of the largest in the world, at a time when Pakistan is struggling to pay down its bills and is dependent on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme.

Pakistan's economy was battered by floods last year that inflicted $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) in damage. Foreign aid has been slow in coming, in part because of concern about the government's ability and willingness to implement financial reform.

The government plans to reduce the number of ministers in the 54-member cabinet by more than a third. Key portfolios such as finance and foreign affairs are likely to be retained by their current holders, indicating the government's desire for continuity in its dealings with the United States and the IMF.

Analysts say the revamp will do little to address the structural problems the economy faces. "This move may be good for politics or to make headlines but not really for the economy as the government has to make a more concerted effort in order to build up its credibility," said Asif Qureshi, the director at Invisor Securities.