Piyush Goyal gets temporary charge of finmin again

In a clear indication that finance minister Arun Jaitley, on medical leave in the US, will not present the Modi government’s last Budget on February 1, railway and coal minister Piyush Goyal was given temporary charge of the ministry. Jaitley will remain a minister without portfolio during his indisposition. He left for the US a week ago for a medical check-up.

“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, hereby directed that during the period of indisposition of Shri Arun Jaitley, minister; the portfolios of minister of finance and minister of corporate affairs held by him, be temporarily assigned to Shri Piyush Goyal, in addition to his existing portfolios,” a statement from the President’s office said late on Wednesday.

Goyal had previously held the finance portfolio when Jaitley was recovering from a medical procedure for a kidney transplant.

It also said that, as advised by the PM, Jaitley will be designated minister without portfolio during the period of his indisposition or till such time he is able to resume his work as minister for finance and minister for corporate affairs. The Modi government is expected to unveil plans to tackle farm distress as well as sops for the middle class and the small and medium enterprises in the interim budget, which could go beyond a mere vote on account.

Arun Jaitley had taken part in several debates in Parliament and also presided over the 32nd meeting of the GST Council.

Fifty-four-year-old Piyush Goyal, who has been the party’s treasurer, has seen his stature rise within the government after he was sworn in as a minister in May 2014. Goyal was soon handed over the charge of the crucial railway portfolio replacing Suresh Prabhu, who was moved to the commerce & industry ministry.

Goyal, a Mumbai politician, is a trained chartered accountant and the second-rank holder in law from Mumbai University. He was a well-known investment banker and has advised top corporates on management strategy and growth. Goyal also served on the board of India’s largest commercial bank — the State Bank of India — and Bank of Baroda, according to his website. Goyal’s father Ved Prakash Goyal was a veteran BJP leader and party treasurer.

“Good economics makes for good politics. We are today at the cusp of a development explosion,” Goyal says on his website. Analysts are eagerly awaiting the interim Budget to get clues on the government’s stance on fiscal consolidation and plans to unveil a direct benefit transfer to help farmers.

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