In one of the biggest bureaucratic shake-up, the Narendra Modi government on late Friday appointed 16 secretary rank officials to various departments including bringing in an experienced hand Shaktikanta Das as the new economic affairs secretary to steer the Centre’s upcoming Budget.
Das, the incumbent revenue secretary, would also be the key link between the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India on monetary policy.
Financial services secretary Hasmukh Adhia would be the new revenue secretary while corporate affairs secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal would be the next financial services secretary.
Shaktikanta Das would assume his new role after incumbent Rajiv Mehrishi retires on August 31. Das was joint secretary/additional secretary in charge of Centre’s budget for four years between 2009 and 2012. Das was fertiliser secretary between December 30, 2013 and June 15, 2014, before moving in again to the finance ministry on June 16, 2014 as revenue secretary.
The moves are seen as crucial with the finance ministry has advanced budget exercise by two months to August this year for wider consultations and planning for the second full budget of Modi government in February, 2016.
Adhia hails from Prime Minister Modi’s home state of Gujarat and has worked under him when he was chief minister of the state. As financial services secretary, Adhia was spearheading Modi’s pet projects such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the biggest financial inclusion initiative in the world. Banks have opened about 18 crore accounts under PMJDY with deposit of more than Rs 22,000 crore after the government started the initiative last year. Adhia would now have a job cut out to improve the image of the revenue department as tax-payer friendly and investor-friendly.
New financial services secretary Duggal would now oversee PMJDY and social security programmes like insurance and pension covers for the poor, besides taking forward the reforms in the public sector banks (PSBs). Improving the performance and consolidation of PSBs would be a key thrust area for the government as they would play a pivotal role in the government’s scheme of things to achive high economic growth.
The ministry of finance has five departments – economic affairs, expenditure, revenue, financial services and disinvestment – each headed by a secretary.
Currently, expenditure secretary Ratan P Watal is the only one among his former peers who is still in the high profile ministry. Being senior most, he would be named as finance secretary, an ornamental designation that would give him the status of first among equals.