Discussed VRS with PMO before transfer orders: Subhash Chandra Garg

The former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg who had applied for a voluntary retirement (VRS) has said that the proposal was discussed with PMO on 18 july and it has no relation with his recent transfer from Finance Minsitry to Power Ministry.

S C Garg

The sudden VRS by a 1983 batch IAS officer and the senior-most bureaucrat in the service has sparked speculations.

However, refuting the reports of him seeking for retirement due to his transfer to Power Ministry, he said, “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.”

Garg took charge as the Power Secretary on Friday.

However, he refused to comment on the reason behind him seeking voluntary retirement.

Garg said, “All positions of secretaries (to the government of India) are equal.”

He 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.

“The risks (of sovereign bond issuance) are much less and during the time I was there, I had not heard anyone in the government questioning it,” Garg said.

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.

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