Revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey appointed finance secretary

Ajay Bhushan Pandey is one of the few bureaucrats who simultaneously steered three crucial institutions successfully -- the Department of Revenue, the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey was named the finance secretary by the government on March 3, 2020.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey was named the finance secretary by the government on March 3, 2020.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
Updated on Mar 03, 2020 07:18 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRajeev Jayaswal

The government on Tuesday designated revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, a 1984-batch Maharashtra cadre IAS, as the finance secretary, the senior most bureaucrat in the finance ministry.

“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved designating Dr. A.B.P. Pandey, lAS (MH:1984), Secretary, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance as Finance Secretary,” a notification issued by the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions said. ACC is chaired by the Prime Minister. As finance secretary, he will continue to head the revenue department.

Pandey is one of the few bureaucrats who simultaneously steered three crucial institutions successfully -- the Department of Revenue, the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). An electrical engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur, Pandey is a post graduate and obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota.

Under his leadership as the CEO of UIDAI (until October 22, 2019), Pandey helped the government in providing digital identity Aadhaar to more than 124 crore Indian residents. He successfully explained Aadhaar, its benefits and the underlying technology to the five-judge Constitution bench in the Supreme Court through his two-day long power point presentation that helped the government in successfully defending 37 anti-Aadhaar petitions, one finance ministry official said requesting anonymity.

“He is the only non-lawyer person and bureaucrat to have been ever allowed to address the Supreme Court Constitution Bench for six hours spread over two days,” the official said.

Since taking over as the revenue secretary, Pandey has been at the helm of significant taxation reforms, bringing in the simplification of taxation processes, transparency through use of technology and revenue growth with data triangulation and analytics without any overreach.

He has been instrumental in introducing faceless e-assessment, faceless e-appeal, Document Identification Number (DIN) system, pre-filled income tax returns, quick income-tax refunds, and the sharp reduction in corporate tax rate. On September 20, 2019, the government announced slashing of corporate tax rates for domestic manufacturers from 30% to 22%, while for new manufacturing companies the rate was reduced from 25% to 15%, provided they do not claim any exemptions.

It was under his watch that the government sought to put higher income-tax burden on top earners while providing relief to taxpayers at the bottom of the pyramid.

As revenue secretary, Pandey focused on compliance without overreach to reverse a declining trend in GST revenue, which led to rise in the indirect tax mop up that has been more than 1 lakh crore for last four consecutive months despite economic slowdown. The Indian economy grew at 4.7% in the quarter ending December 2019. GDP growth had been falling continuously for six quarters since June 2018.

At the helm of UIDAI for more than nine years, Pandey was also instrumental in scaling up Aadhaar in delivery of government subsidies and benefits which has led to savings of more than 1,40,000 crore so far by eliminating ghosts and duplicates and ensuring that the benefits reach the real and deserving beneficiaries, the official quoted above said.

Pandey is responsible for the revenue department since December 1, 2018. He also holds the position of the chairman, GSTN [since September 2017] and chairs the Inter-Ministerial Co-ordination Committee (IMCC) to prevent money-laundering activities.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022