Union Budget team short of 2 key hands

Posts of Expenditure and Joint Secretaries in Finance Ministry remain vacant

The Budget-making team of the Finance Ministry is short of two key officials, while the preparation for the second Budget of the Modi 2.0 government has shifted into top gear.

The Budget for 2020-21 to be presented on February 1 is keenly awaited for the expected second wave of structural reforms for pulling out the economy from its over six-year low growth of 4.5%.

In addition to the Expenditure Secretary, the position of Joint Secretary (Budget), another key official in the exercise, has been vacant for almost three months. The post of Expenditure Secretary fell vacant after G.C. Murmu relinquished the post when he was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in October. Subsequently, the additional charge of the Department of Expenditure was given to Atanu Chakraborty.

Mr. Chakraborty, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, is Secretary, Economic Affairs, in the Finance Ministry.

October start

The Ministry kick-started the work on the Budget on October 14 with pre-Budget/RE (Revised Estimate) meetings. The series of meetings with different departments and Ministries concluded last month.

The Budget estimates for 2020-21 are provisionally finalised after the Expenditure Secretary completes discussions with other Secretaries and financial advisers.

The second Budget of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is considered to be crucial as it will be presented against the backdrop of a slowdown in the economy.

Last week, the Reserve Bank downgraded the growth forecast for 2019-20 to 5% from the earlier projection of 6.1%.

The Finance Minister has said reforms would continue and also hinted at tweaking personal income tax rates in the Budget.

Source: Read Full Article