"Felt Working With Sitharaman Might Not Be Conducive": Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg

Garg criticised the 2019-20 budget, Sitharaman's first budget presentation as a recital of great work done in the previous five years and did not include any new reform.

India   |   1 Nov 2020 7:23 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-11-01T12:56:38+05:30
Writer : Devyani Madaik | Editor : Shubhendu Deshmukh | Creatives : Vijay S Hegde
Felt Working With Sitharaman Might Not Be Conducive: Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg

Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg had alleged that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman insisted on his transfer out of the ministry within a month of her taking over as FM.

Garg had taken voluntary retirement a year ago, on October 31 and his retirement raised various questions at that time.
Garg, in his blog, claimed that it had become quite evident that working with Sitharaman was going to be quite difficult and might not be conducive to undertaking necessary reforms to attain the $10 trillion economy goal within a period of eight years.
Speaking about his experience working under Late Arun Jaitley and appreciating his uncanny ability to devise the most acceptable solutions, Garg said Sitharaman had a 'different personality, knowledge endowment, skill-set and approach for economic policy issues and also for the officers working with her'.
Garg claimed that the FM, for some reason, had preconceived notions about him and did not seem to have confidence in me, and didn't seem comfortable working with him.
"The serious difference also developed on some key issues like economic capital framework of RBI, a package for dealing with problems of non-banks, resolution of non-banks, partial credit guarantee scheme, capitalisation of non-banks like IIFCL and other financial entities and the like. Very soon, not only had our personal relationship soured, but the official working relationship also became quite unproductive," Garg wrote.
Further, the then additional principal secretary to the Prime Minister, P.K. Mishra, had discussed Garg's relationship with Sitharaman and agreed that the best course would be for him to make way for the new minister so she could 'function smoothly'. Garg said he had already made mind to take voluntary retirement.
Garg has also criticised the 2019-20 budget, Sitharaman's first budget presentation. According to him, the budget was a recital of great work done in the previous five years and included no new reform.
"Some proposals for reforming sectoral foreign direct investment limits, issuing foreign currency sovereign bonds, selling shares below the 51 per cent limit in case of the public sector, which I could push through, were not good enough to alter the course of the economic system materially," he wrote.
He said the budget was to be presented on July 5, within 35 days of Sitharaman taking over as the minister. "Despite quite a few episodes of acrimony which had made the working environment unpleasant, I decided that I would do everything possible to see that the budget was not harmed and it was delivered on time," he added.
It is for the first time Garg has openly talked about his retirement and Sitharaman. The 1983-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, Garg was appointed as economic affairs secretary in the Ministry of Finance in 2017 and was designated finance secretary in 2019. He was transferred to the Ministry of Power in July last year, eventually left the services in October.
After completing 36 years in government and public service, Garg took voluntary retirement a year before the scheduled time of his retirement that was October 2020.
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