VRS decision not linked to shift out of FinMin: Garg

New Delhi


Former Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg on Friday dismissed any connection between his decision to seek voluntary retirement from service and his transfer to Secretary in the Power Ministry, which is seen as a downgrade from the coveted position he held.

Speaking to reporters, immediately after taking charge at the Power Ministry on Friday, Garg noted that he had discussed the issue of early exit from service with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on July 18. However, a formal application for voluntary retirement was given on July 24, the day the government announced a major reshuffle of top bureaucracy late in evening. 

"So there is no connection...I am grateful to the PM and the system to post me here in the Power Ministry, which is such an important ministry. The dream of $5 trillion economy will not be achieved unless power the sector performs. Economy growth is also dependent on the power sector's performance," Garg said. 

Asked whether his application for VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) has been accepted and whether he would reconsider the decision, he said that the application will also have to be approved by his parent state cadre and they have three months time to take the decision. 

"I have conveyed the decision on VRS for personal reasons. The question is not relevant (on whether he would reconsider)," he said. 

The news about Garg's decision to quit the service came a day after a late Wednesday evening government announcement transferring him to the Power Ministry from his Secretary position in the Finance Ministry. In a tweet, Garg said that he has requested the government to relieve him from his services with effect from October 31, 2019. He was scheduled to superannuate in October 2020. 

There were speculations that Garg was moved to the Power Ministry over his decision on sovereign bonds announced in the budget. His dissent note on the Bimal Jalan panel looking at the Reserve Bank's (RBI) surplus and its transfer to the government also did not go down well with a section of the government. 

Garg, however, sought to counter the speculations.

"The decision on sovereign bonds was taken to ease pressure on domestic availability of resources, especially for the private sector. It was a very considered decision where benefits are enormous and risks are a lot less. Until I was there (in the Finance Ministry), I had not heard anyone in the government questioning the move," Garg said.

The sovereign bond issue has been opposed by a section of former RBI governors and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Within the government also, there are divisions, as although the Finance Minister has defended the budget proposal, the PMO wants it to look at the concerns raised by others. 

On the Jalan panel, Garg said that committee was yet to reach a conclusion and is still in the deliberation process, indicating that any opposition or difference of opinion at this stage is pointless. 

Asked whether he could have been considered for the Home Secretary's position given his seniority, Garg said that it was not right for him to discuss appointments. 

"It is the government's prerogative to make appointments. All positions of secretary are equal. In terms of challenges, the Power Ministry is equally important," he said. 

Secretaries holding a press meet on the day of taking charge is not usual but Garg seemed to take the opportunity to clarify his stand, that too in full public glare. He, however said that he had done the same in the Finance Ministry and did not find the press conference unusual. IANS