Monday, July 06, 2009

Key North Block officials behind Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget

CALL it the Team Budget from North Block, or simply backroom boys for India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee as he is presenting the General Budget in Lok Sabha in a few hours time from now. Here are the few senior officials who have worked extremely hard for the last one month if not more, to make the Budget to be presented on Monday, July 6, a big success.
Ashok Chawla & His Team A: A 1973 batch IAS of Gujarat cadre, Ashok Chawla, currently finance secretary, directly controls three out of five departments in Finmin --- department of financial services, department of economic affairs (DEA) and department of disinvestment, where there’s no secretary-equivalent officers now. As he held additional secretary’s post in the ministry of finance from April 25, 2005 to January 1, 2007, he had past experiences in Budget preparation. He is aided by some of the brilliant minds in the DEA --- Anup K Pujari (1980, Karnataka cadre), Kumar Sanjay Krishna (1985, Assam cadre), Alok Sheel (1982, Kerala cadre), K P Krishnan (1983 Karnataka cadre), Gobind Mohan (1989, Sikkim cadre) to name a few. Revenue secretary P V Bhide: An IAS from Andhra Pradesh cadre and batch-mate of Mr Chawla, P V Bhide had the earlier experiences of Budget preparation as he held the same post of revenue secretary when then finance minister P Chidambaram presented the Budget in February 2008. He has been the revenue secretary from June, 2007 and had the experience of working as secretary, disinvestment for a brief period. Sushama Nath & Her Woman Team: A 1974 batch IAS of Madhya Pradesh cadre, Ms Nath is heading a team of women officers in the department of expenditure. Ms Nath, who had played a key role in the sixth Pay Commission, is now aided by additional secretary Vilasini Ramachandran and a 1977 batch IAS officer from Gujarat cadre, joint secretaries Anjuly Chib Duggal of the 1981 IAS batch, Meena Aggarwal from Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Madhulika Prasad Sukul of Defence Accounts Service. Men Of The Moment: Finance minister is also aided by a number of other key officers in North Block --- chief economic adviser Arvind Virmani, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman S S N Moorthy, and chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) P C Jha.

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