24 January 2006 ~ 0 Comments

New man in finance

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New man in finance It appears strange that after the retirement of the last incumbent DC Gupta in July 2004, the post of Finance Secretary was left vacant for almost a year and a half. The wait is finally over. Its not a moment too soon, considering the Budget is now on everybody’s head! The decision, to put in a quasi-boss of the stable of babus is apparently a carefully calibrated one. Its also, the word goes, one that was arrived by some exercise of consensus. Having a big Finance babu who carries a soft stick is an advantage in a Ministry where the Mantri is an expert on all things financial and theoretical. The current Expenditure Secretary Adarsh Kishore has now taken over as the new Finance Secretary. North Block insiders believe though the 1969 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS babu is going to have a tough time reconciling, the often contrasting demands, on the Ministry in this busy budget making season. But he’s the one on the hot seat. UPA Government’s mega investment programmes not only require drastic pruning of subsidies in the petro, food and fertilizer sectors but he also needs to initiate major initiatives on the resource mobilization front. Both are difficult tasks, given the vested interests working against them. Kishore of course has to perform an intricate balancing act, building consensus not only among his babu colleagues from the Departments of revenue and Economic Affairs, but also pacifying the strident voices from the Left and the corporate sector preaching ‘contrasting prescriptions’. The affable Kishore however will be aided by his diverse experiences that he has gathered over the years. Over and above his successful yearlong stint as Expenditure Secretary he also had useful exposures in the Departments of Heavy Industries and Statistics and Programme Implementation earlier. In fact it was during his tenure in the latter post that a review of the now controversial MPLADS scheme was initiated. Academically too the babu seems quite equipped to handle the elaborate social sector programmes of the UPA Government. While Kishore’s doctoral thesis was on agrarian reforms, his postdoctoral work revolved around the role of the state and the market. You cannot have better academic credentials for the job!

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