Home >Politics >News >Nirmala Sitharaman says she was not aware of Garg's decision to seek VRS

NEW DELHI : The controversy over the government’s decision to shunt out finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg on 24 July refuses to die down with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that his decision seeking voluntary retirement was a surprise.

“Well, he had given the letter just the day after the government transferred (him). The letter literally came the morning after the announcement was made. I am not aware of any conversation with me before that. The letter is concrete evidence which I can speak about, that came the morning after," Sitharaman told Economic Times in an interview published on Monday.

This is in contrast to Garg’s statement on Friday that his proposal for voluntary retirement was discussed with the prime minister’s office on 18 July, a day after the last meeting of the Bimal Jalan panel which is considering transferring of excess capital reserves of the Reserve Bank of India to the government. Garg has submitted a dissent note to the panel.

“The proposal to take VRS was discussed with the PMO on 18 July much before the orders came. It has no connection with the orders," said Garg, who took charge as the power secretary on Friday. He, however, declined to elaborate on his reasons for seeking voluntary retirement. “All positions of secretaries (to the government of India) are equal," he added.

Garg formally applied for VRS on 24 July in the evening, and his application has gone to his parent state Rajasthan for further processing. He is expected to serve as India’s power secretary for the next three months of the notice period.

However, Sitharaman seemed to indicate that the controversial proposal of issuing overseas sovereign bonds which was believed to be the brainchild of Garg was not a reason behind his exit. Sitharaman in the interview said she is not reviewing that Budget proposal. “I have not been asked by anyone to do a review," Sitharaman said. Several former RBI governors including Raghuram Rajan and C. Rangarajan have criticized the Budget proposal while Bimal Jalan has supported the idea.

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