The Narendra Modi government is unlikely to appoint a chief economic adviser reporting to the finance minister in its last year in office after Arvind Subramanian on Wednesday announced plans to leave his post by September to pursue an academic career in the US.
“The government will present a vote-on-account and not a full budget in February ahead of the scheduled (general) elections later that year. There will be no Economic Survey that needs to be presented by this government in its current tenure. An Economic Survey and regular budget will be presented by a new government after the elections. So, in such a scenario, government is unlikely to appoint a chief economic adviser for the rest of its term," a finance ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
In the absence of a chief economic adviser, Sanjeev Sanyal, the principal economic adviser in the finance ministry, is likely to take charge of the economic division after Subramanian vacates his office.
There is precedence to this. After Raghuram Rajan demitted the office of chief economic adviser in September 2013 to become the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the United Progressive Alliance government did not appoint a chief economic adviser for the rest of its term. The post remained vacant for more than a year, until Subramanian took charge on 16 October 2014 after the National Democratic Alliance government came to power.
Subramanian’s exit from office on personal grounds was announced by Union minister Arun Jaitley, who broke the news in a Facebook post titled “Thank you Arvind". “He left me with no option but to agree with him," Jaitley said.
“Even if there is no Economic Survey to be presented, the government needs a chief economic adviser due to the pressing economic situation. But the problem is no reputed economist would like to join the government for such a short period of time ahead of the general election," a Delhi-based senior economist said on condition of anonymity.