NEW DELHI :
Two days after seeking early retirement from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), senior civil servant Subhash Chandra Garg on Friday said his proposal for voluntary retirement was discussed with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on 18 July.
“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 took over as the secretary of the department of economic affairs in 2017, before becoming the finance secretary in March this year. He was believed to be the architect of the budget proposal to raise $10 billion from the sale of sovereign bonds overseas, a move that has faced severe criticism from several experts, including former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan.
Garg declined to share the name of the PMO officials with whom he had discussed his VRS proposal in response to Mint’s query. He, however, said there was no possibility of him “reconsidering" his retirement. The sovereign bonds proposal was a “well-considered decision" and had “enormous benefits", he added.
Garg also said that as the finance and economic affairs secretary he had not faced any opposition or adverse comments on the plan from within the government.
Reuters earlier on Friday reported that the PMO wants the finance ministry to reassess the idea of issuing overseas sovereign bonds.
Garg denied he was under pressure to hold a press conference to clear the controversy, adding, “What you hear from different sources, I can’t comment."
Garg had also joined issue with other members of the Bimal Jalan committee, set up to decide the RBI’s economic capital framework, and submitted a dissent note to the panel. Over the past year, Garg had differences with top central bank officials, including former governor Urjit Patel and his deputy Viral Acharya over the central bank’s autonomy.
On the Jalan committee issue, Garg said deliberations are still on and the committee is yet to reach a conclusion. He added that the new government representative will have to take a call on the same.
Garg, a 1983-batch IAS officer from the Rajasthan cadre, was removed as finance and economic affairs secretary and transferred to the power ministry as its top bureaucrat, in a major bureaucratic reshuffle late on Wednesday. He was replaced by department of investment and public asset management secretary Atanu Chakraborty, a 1985-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer.
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.