Budget Circular Is Out, But FMs Team Isnt In

New Delhi, September 16: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
The finance ministry (FinMin) has kicked off the budgetary process for next year amidst uncertainty about the FMs A-team. FinMins formal budget circular to various ministries has been issued even as the department of economic affairs (DEA) remains without a secretary, and BP Misra and Prodipto Ghosh, the two additional secretaries, are on their way out to new destinations. The DEA is supposed to coordinate inputs from FinMins department of revenue, expenditure, and chief economic advisor, besides other Central ministries.

A senior FinMin official told FE that budget circular was issued on Monday evening for submission of revised and budget estimates, and expenditure accounts. Budget meetings will begin by November as is the usual practice, the official assured.

The finance ministry must be manned by the best possible talent but where am I to find capable officers, the finance minister had told FE in a recent interview.

Indeed, the leadership crisis in the econocracy persists. BP Misra, additional secretary in DEA, is headed for the International Monetary Fund next month as executive director. Mr Misra, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1969 batch, is being upgraded as secretary. The name of Pradipto Ghosh has been in circulation for a variety of jobs including secretary, fertilisers, and now secretary in the ministry of environment and forests. D Swarup continues as additional secretary, budget. He holds dual charge of additional secretary, expenditure, since July, after Mr Misra was transferred from expenditure to DEA as additional secretary.

According to sources, banking secretary NS Sisodia may take over as the next DEA secretary. He has been in banking since July after Vineeta Rai shed her dual charge of revenue and banking and insurance.

If finance secretary DC Gupta is given a new position in the government, Mr Sisodia may even get the finance secretarys job.

The DEA has been without a secretary since June this year when S Narayan retired as finance secretary (and DEA secretary) and joined the Prime Ministers Office. Mr Gupta, his successor, was upgraded to the finance secretarys job, but not shifted to DEA. Instead, Mr Gupta continued to do the job of secretary, expenditure. The DEA job was left unmanned.

The finance ministry has four departments: DEA, revenue, expenditure, banking and insurance. One of the four secretaries heading these departments coordinates as finance secretary. The practice has often been for the DEA secretary to be finance secretary, but there have been several exceptions. Whats more unusual is for the job of DEA secretary to be left unmanned.