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Hunt for new finance secretary on...

The UPA-II government, now on its last legs, has begun preparing a vote on account budget for 2014-15 asking different ministries to enumerate their estimates of receipts as well as expenditure for the next financial year, and paced up its hunt for a new finance secretary.

The Budget, in all probability, will be prepared by the new finance secretary and the chief economic advisor (CEA) to the MoF.  Finance secretary R S Gujral is retiring in November, while the post of CEA is vacant after Raghuram Rajan took over as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

As the hunt for the new CEA continues, four contenders are in the race. Expenditure Secretary Sumit Bose, a 1976-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, may succeed Gujral. Bose is due to retire in March 2014. He became expenditure secretary in May 2011.  His main task was to keep government expenditure controlled to contain fiscal deficit at 4.6 per cent of GDP but he was frustrated by a huge subsidy bill that ballooned government expenditure. With general elections scheduled in May 2014, there will only be an interim budget, likely in January. The final budget will be presented by the new government.

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