New team takes charge at Finance Minister ahead of budget process

New Delhi, Aug 31: Ahead of beginning of work on the Budget for 2016-17, a new team at finance ministry today took charge of key portfolios.

Shaktikanta Das, 58, took charge as the Secretary for Department of Economic Affairs after Rajiv Mehrishi on his last day in office was appointed Home Secretary for a two-year tenure.

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Das, who was Revenue Secretary, held discussions at length with his successor Hasmukh Adhia. "Yes, they have taken charge," a ministry official said when asked if Das and Adhia have taken charge.

Adhia, who headed the Department of Financial Services, passed on the baton to Anjuly Chib Duggal.

By the virtue of his seniority, Expenditure Secretary Ratan P Watal is likely to be the Finance Secretary. However, no official announcement had been made so far.

Traditionally, the seniormost bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry is named the Finance Secretary. Wattal, 59, is a 1978-batch Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS officer while Das belongs to 1980 batch from Tamil Nadu cadre.

Das is an old economic affairs hand, having worked as joint secretary in-charge of budget.

He also served as additional secretary in the DEA before moving as fertiliser secretary. In June last year, he was brought back to finance ministry after Rajiv Takru was shunted out. Duggal, 58, a Punjab cadre IAS officer of 1981 batch, had previously served as special secretary in the Department of Expenditure before being appointed Corporate Affairs Secretary in December last year.

Adhia is a 1981 batch IAS officer from Gujarat. Finance Ministry is slated to start consultations on 2016-17 Budget with different ministries and government departments from September 4.

Beginning with Commerce, Textile and External Affairs Ministries on September 4, the consultations with different government departments would conclude on September 28.

The consultations would focus on expenditure proposals for 2016-17 and revised estimates for 2015-16.

Later, consultations with several interest groups like industry, traders' bodies and trade unions will be held.

The Union Budget is traditionally presented on the last working day of February.


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