The Budget is done and dusted, and the tough part starts now, which is implementing the proposals. One space where heavy lifting needs to be done is the disinvestment sector. The process needs to pick up pace, as the department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) secretary Tuhin Kant Pandey is only too aware.
The government has revised its disinvestment estimate for the current financial year to Rs. 78,000 crores, down from Rs. 1.75 lakh crores envisaged in the budget estimate last year, which is more than 55 per cent reduction, and has set a target of Rs. 65,000 crores for 2022-23.
Last year’s target will only be met by this non-disinvestment of five per cent in LIC. Other major disinvestments planned include Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Pawan Hans and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL). Those are big looming tasks for Mr Pandey and his team. But even then, there will be a big gap between the Budget and actual disinvestment. Perhaps keeping disinvestment targets modest is an admission that they were rather ambitious in the past!
Centre’s lateral entry programme pick up after a lull
The Centre’s lateral appointments programme is progressing despite initial hiccups and lukewarm response. The first lateral entry from the private sector and public sector undertakings for an appointment at senior and mid-level positions in various ministries happened in 2019 with seven candidates and a mere three candidates in 2021. However, 19 more candidates were selected last year for appointment to the post of director on a lateral recruitment basis and are working in various capacities, according to the department of personnel and training (DoPT). The first round of lateral appointments in 2019 was disappointing when out of the nine selected candidates two resigned shortly later.
Now, in the current year, the Centre has recommended 31 candidates in various Union ministries under lateral entry programme on contract.
Six of these appointments are to the ministry of finance, including Rajeev Saksena (department of economic affairs), Sourabh Mishra (department of financial services) and Balasubramanian Krishnamurthy (department of revenue). Among the 10 candidates recommended for joint secretary, rank are Samuel Praveen Kumar (ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare), Manish Chadha (ministry of commerce and industry), Amber Dube (ministry of civil aviation) and Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale (ministry of new and renewable energy).
All the babus have specialised knowledge and expertise in their domain areas. While those from the private sector have been appointed on a contract basis, those from public sector undertakings have been appointed on deputation.
Kerala babu stirs controversy again with memoir
A memoir penned by Kerala IAS officer M. Sivasankar, who was incarcerated for while for his alleged role in the gold smuggling case and was brought back into service from suspension only last month, has set off a fresh round of accusations and denials.
While the juicy contents may ensure that the case and Mr Sivasankar remain in the headlines, the babu may find himself being questioned by the state government. The matter is still sub judice and Mr Sivasankar reportedly did not seek prior clearance from the government for writing his version of the smuggling case.
The babu, who is currently posted as principal secretary of sports and youth welfare, denies that there is any content in the book that deals with the sub judice case. He however does vigorously defend himself, claiming that there is nothing to connect him with the gold smuggling case. But the state government is unlikely to accept Mr Sivasankar’s claims at face value. But a far more awkward dilemma for the authorities would be questioning chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan since the babu was principal secretary to the CM when the scandal broke out. As of now, Pinarayi seems to be backing Mr Sivasankar’s memoir, but that may quickly change if the case continues to haunt the babu corridors in Kerala.