Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Finance secretary Ashok Chawla given additional charge of disinvestment; now controls 3 out of 5 Finmin departments
FINANCE secretary Ashok Chawla, a 1973 batch IAS from Gujarat cadre, has proved once more that he is one of the most powerful bureaucrats in the country holding additional charges of two departments which were earlier held by full-fledged secretaries. Mr Chawla, who was recently elevated from the post of secretary in the department of economic affairs (DEA) to finance secretary, has now been given additional charge of the post of secretary, department of disinvestment under the ministry of finance for a period of three months or until further orders, a government announcement said. The appointment, which gives Mr Chawla a conplete control of three out of five departments in finance ministry, is effective from June 11, 2009. The post was vacant after disinvestment secretary Rahul Khullar, a 1975 batch IAS, was made commerce secretary. Earlier, he was given additional charge of the department of financial services since May 1, 2009 where an additional secretary level officer, a 1977 batch IAS officer G C Chaturvedi, was appointed to lead the department. Now, out of five departments in finance ministry, only two has full-fledged IAS at the helm --- secretary Sushama Nath in the department of expenditure and revenue secretary P V Bhide. The bestowing of additional charge of the disinvestment department to Mr Chawla is a significant development in the backdrop of a possible announcement in forthcoming Budget that the government may take a slew of measures on divestment, thereby converting the department into an active zone. Significantly, Mr Chawla and urban development secretary M Ramachandran are the two key contenders for cabinet secretary’s post next year.