Amid the Budget exercise in Parliament, the Centre has decided to not grant an extension to finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey who was also holding additional charge of revenue department in the finance ministry. Meanwhile, it has given additional charge of the post to the current economic affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj.
Pandey, who retires today (February 28), took charge of the revenue secretary in December 2018 and as the finance secretary in March 2020. His exit comes at a time when finance Bill 2021 is to be discussed in Parliament after March 8. Pandey was instrumental in bringing far reaching reforms in income tax, including corporate tax reduction, faceless assessment and faceless appeal and indirect taxes. He worked towards reducing tax litigation and brought schemes like Vivad se Vishwas.
“The competent authority has approved assignment of additional charge of the post of Secretary, Department of Revenue to Tarun Bajaj, upon Pandey's superannuation, till the appointment of a regular incumbent or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” an order issued by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet. This committee is headed by the Prime Minister.
Bajaj, an old hand at the Finance Ministry, assumed charge as Economic Affairs secretary in last May, at a time when India saw the worst growth contraction in history on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to taking over this post, he was Additional Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office.
Bajaj, a 1988-batch Haryana-cadre IAS officer, is not new to the functioning of the finance ministry as this is his third stint in the ministry.
At the helm of DEA, he has maintained cordial relationships with Reserve Bank of India, and backed decisions of the central bank on key issues like loan restructuring, appointment process of monetary policy committee and so on.
Insiders in the government says that Bajaj prefers keeping a low profile and talking straight to the point. He believes in cordial ties with all departments and has a consultative approach dealing with all stakeholders.
The senior bureaucrat worked earlier as joint secretary in ministry’s other crucial-Department of Financial Services overseeing the insurance division between 2006 and 2011.
He then worked as a joint secretary in the DEA between 2014 and 2015 handling multilateral institutions.
During his five year stint (2015-2020), at PMO, he was supervising and handling finance related matters and that’s the reason he was picked up by the government to take the charge of an important role in finance ministry.