An official statement released today revealed that Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia has been designated as the new Finance Secretary. He will fill the vacancy that was created after the recent retirement of Ashok Lavasa in October. Adhia is a Gujarat cadre IAS officer from 1981 batch. The same was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, according to an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training. Convention has it that the senior-most Secretary in the Finance Ministry will be designated as the Finance Secretary. There are five departments under the Finance Ministry – Expenditure, Economic Affairs, Financial Services, Revenue and Department of Investment and Public Asset management (DIPAM).
IAS officer Rajiv Kumar of 1984 batch is the Financial Services Secretary. Ajay Narayan Jha is Expenditure Secretary and Neeraj Kumar Gupta Secretary, DIPAM. Both are 1982 batch IAS officers and finally, Subhash Chandra Garg, a 1983 batch IAS officer, is Economic Affairs Secretary.
Adhia’s appointment comes ahead of the GST council meeting that is scheduled to take place on November 10 in Guwahati. Earlier, on October 23, Adhia had said that some rejig in GST rate structure is required to reduce the burden on small and medium businesses. The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which amalgamates more than a dozen central and state levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT, will take about a year to stabilize. “There is need for some rejig in rates… it is possible that some items in the same chapter are divided. There is a need for harmonisation of items chapter wise and wherever we find there is a big burden on small and medium businesses and on common man, if we bring them down, there will be a better compliance,” Adhia said.
To ease hassles faced by medium and small businesses in paying taxes and filing GST returns, the council has amended various aspects of the new indirect tax regime to make it industry-friendly. Also, the GST Council has rationalised rates on over 100 commodities and made refund process easier for exporters.
Adhia, however, said the rejig would require some calculations by the fitment committee, which will decide which items need a rationalisation of rate under the GST regime which kicked in from July 1.