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Who will be the next RBI governor, some probable candidates here

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Speculation is swirling in India’s local media on who will be the next central bank governor after Urjit Patel’s abrupt exit.

There’s no obvious successor yet, and given the cloud under which Patel left — amid a public fight with the government over the Reserve Bank of India’s autonomy — investors are naturally anxious about who will take the helm.

The first step is for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appoint an interim governor, as has been the practice in the past, with that post likely to go to N. S. Vishwanathan, currently the most senior of the four deputies at the central bank. He could be in the job for several months until the government names Patel’s successor. In 2016, it took more than two months for then-deputy governor Patel to be named as a replacement for central bank chief Raghuram Rajan.

 

Here’s a look at some of the names making the rounds in the local press:

N.S. Vishwanathan, Deputy Governor, RBI

NS Vishwanathan, Deputy Governor at the RBI’s Third Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2016-17. (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)

Vishwanathan joined the central bank in 1981 and was appointed deputy governor for a three-year term in July 2016. An RBI board member said it’s traditional for the longest-serving deputy governor to take the helm until a permanent successor is found, which would make Vishwanathan the likely choice. Prior to becoming a deputy governor, he was an executive director at the central bank. Holding a Master’s degree in Economics from Bangalore University, his responsibilities at the RBI include banking regulation and risk monitoring.

Subhash Chandra Garg, Economic Affairs Secretary

A top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry, Garg’s appointment would be a very clear signal from Modi’s administration that it wants greater control over the central bank. Garg, who is currently on the RBI’s board, has been pushing to change the central bank’s governance structure and get it to transfer more of its excess capital to the state. A former executive director at the World Bank, Garg has opposed the RBI using interest rate hikes to bolster the currency, which is Asia’s worst-performer this year.

Subir Gokarn, Executive Director at IMF

A former RBI deputy governor between 2009 and 2012, Gokarn has been India’s top official at the International Monetary Fund since 2015. At the central bank, he oversaw monetary policy, research, financial markets, communications, and deposit insurance. Holding a PhD in Economics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Gokarn was also director of research at Brookings India and chief economist at Standard & Poor’s Asia Pacific.

Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services

A top bureaucrat in the financial services division of the Finance Ministry, Kumar has been focused on cleaning up the banking system since his appointment last year, including having to deal with fraud at a large state-owned bank and a debt default at a shadow lender. Prior to his current post, he worked at the personnel department, where he introduced an online system to improve bureaucracy. Kumar has a B.Sc degree in Zoology and a Master’s degree in public policy.

Shaktikanta Das, Former Finance Ministry Official

A former economic affairs secretary from 2015 to 2017, Das worked closely with the central bank. He is currently a member of the Finance Commission of India, and the government’s representative at the Group of 20 summits. Modi initially brought Das into the Finance Ministry to head up the revenue department, later moving him to economic affairs, where he helped to spearhead the prime minister’s controversial demonetization drive in 2016.

Hasmukh Adhia, Former Finance Secretary

Adhia, who has a PhD degree in yoga, retired as the top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry last month. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Adhia declined several plum positions to pursue his favorite passions of spirituality and yoga, and spend more time with his son. Adhia had worked with Modi when the latter was chief minister of Gujarat state. Considered a close ally to the prime minister, he was one of the few people who knew about the surprise cash ban in 2016. Even though he was the top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry, he hardly spoke on subjects other than taxation.


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Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day

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Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.

“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.

 

“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.

Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.

In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.

Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.

Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.

“The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status,” a government release said.

But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.

About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.

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Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI

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Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.

The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.

There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.

 

“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.

It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.

“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.

Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.

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NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

 

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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