Govt may not go for a new full-time CEA

Govt may not go for a new full-time CEA

File photo of Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian. PTI

The government may rely on in-house economists and is unlikely to go on a talent hunt from outside the finance ministry for the chief economic adviser once incumbent Arvind Subramanian calls it a day. Subramanian is likely to serve as the CEA until August.

Since there is no mid-year Economic Survey this year nor will there be one ahead of the next year's Budget, the government does not really need a full-time economist for the rest of its tenure, a top official said on the condition of anonymity.

The Centre had started presenting a mid-term Economic Survey since last year and the first mid-year survey was presented in August 2017. But next year the Centre may not come up with the usual pre-Budget Economic Survey as parliamentary elections will beheld soon after the Union Budget. Usually, it is the new government which takes up the work and comes out with the Survey. 

“Someone who is in the know of the continuing policy matters and does not take much time to decide where the tweaking is required can advise the finance minister for the time being,” he said, adding there are chances that no outside economist would even like to serve at this moment as there may be a regime change after elections next year.

The post of CEA can even lay vacant for the rest of the term of this government. It was lying vacant for over a year since Raghuram Rajan left the finance ministry to join the RBI as governor in September 2013.

Fifty-nine-year-old Subramanian, who on Wednesday announced his decision to quit due to “pressing personal reasons”, is expecting a grandchild in September. He has three children and all of them are in the United States.

Subramanian's tenure coincided with the term of the NDA government or May 2019. The CEA, who served the government for over three-and-a-half-years became the first economic adviser whose economic surveys became part of curriculum in various universities. They were also widely read across the world.