Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held a meeting with Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg, and Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian through video conferencing on Monday, the day he was discharged from hospital following a successful kidney transplant.
“He took stock of the work that was being done in his absence and discussed various economic and policy issues with senior Finance Ministry staff. He will have such meetings with officials regularly through video conferencing,” said an official aware of the meeting.
Jaitley, who has been listed on the website of Prime Minister’s Office as ‘Minister Without Portfolio” was discharged on Monday morning after spending more than half a month in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“Delighted to be back at home. My gratitude to the doctors, nursing officers and the paramedics who looked after me for over the past three weeks. I wish to thank all well-wishers, colleagues and friends who were very concerned and continued to wish me for my recovery,” he tweeted.
The official quoted above said that Jaitley was getting up-to-date with the work being done in Finance Ministry before he eventually returns to his office in North Block. Business Standard reported earlier that Jaitley, now clearly working from home, is expected to return to Finance Ministry from end-June. He is also likely to have files and documents taken to his residence for his clearance.
Even after getting discharged, Jaitley is said to be following a strict diet regime and access to him is severely restricted as part of continuing post-operative care.
In Jaitley’s absence, Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal has held additional charge of Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries.
Jaitley, 65, underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery at AIIMS on May 14. He had been keeping unwell since early April due to kidney related problems and chest infection. He had been admitted to AIIMS earlier but was released without getting any surgery done and underwent regular dialysis before his surgery.
In his absence, the biggest issue that Finance Ministry has faced is a spike in petrol and diesel retail rates due to high global crude oil prices. North Block has estimated that even a single rupee per litre cut in petrol and diesel excise duties will lead to revenues foregone of around Rs 140 billion per annum, and has so far resisted any calls of a cut.
Additionally, there has been a major disappointment on the privatization front as there were no takers for Air India. The centre’s deadline for expressions of interest from prospective buyers ended on Thursday evening.