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New wave at N Block

business Updated: Feb 22, 2011 15:04 IST
HT Correspondent

Expenditure secretary Sushma Nath took charge as the new finance secretary on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to occupy the post that drives bureaucratic coordination of the country’s financial policies, barely four weeks ahead of the presentation of the budget for 2011-12.

Nath, a 1974 batch Indian Administrative Service officer from the MP cadre, took over from Ashok Chawla, who retired on Monday. The changeover marked a departure from the usual practice of having a same person as the finance secretary through the budget cycle of drafting to presentation. The budget cycle began last month with customary meetings between ministry officials and interest groups.

Financial services secretary R Gopalan also took additional charge as the economic affairs secretary on Tuesday. A 1976 IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, Gopalan took over as financial services secretary last year.

Nath’s taking over as the finance secretary is reminiscent of last year when disinvestment secretary Sunil Mitra replaced P.V.Bhide as the new revenue secretary weeks before the presentation of the budget.

Mitra, a 1975 batch IAS officer from the West Bengal cadre, was replaced by Sumit Bose as the disinvestment secretary.

A 1976 batch IAS officer of the MP cadre, Bose was secretary of the 13th Finance Commission, which submitted its report on sharing of government tax receipts with states.

Chief economic advisor, Kaushik Basu, a former professor at Cornell University, is also busy giving final touches to the Economic Survey.

The two important revenue offices — Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) — also have new faces at the helm.

Sudhir Chandra, a 1973 batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, has recently taken over the as the new chairman of CBDT. He was member (investigation) at CBDT.

Sumit Dutt Majumder, a 1975 batch IRS officer and former DG of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), took over as the new CBEC chairman in December.