PM to take over Finance Ministry

PM to take over Finance Ministry

Singhs team likely to comprise old colleagues

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is all set to take charge of the Finance Ministry once Pranab Muk-herjee resigns on Tuesday.

Singh, an eminent economist and the architect of the landmark economic reforms in 1991, is expected to assume charge at a time when the economy is facing a torrid time.

Speculations are rife that Singh’s team will comprise old colleagues and economists who can help him come out of the policy morass.

At this juncture, the most probable name doing the rounds is that of Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who enjoys utmost confidence of the prime minister and can be trusted to take the economy forward amid the present crisis.

The gross domestic product growth has plummeted close to a decade low, investor sentiments have taken a beating and industrial slowdown, rising prices and rupee depreciation have weakened the prospect of further acceleration in the economy anytime soon.

The reforms, like introducing FDI in retail, rationalisation of fuel prices and cutting down subsidies, which are keeping investors at bay, needs Singh’s urgent attention.

Other policy measures like reducing the fiscal and current account deficit, checking inflation and improving the overall governance scenario also need to be addressed.
Analysts are hopeful that under Singh’s stewardship, the economy will revive sooner than expected since he has been billed as liberal and pro-reforms.

The point of contention is whether Singh will get the support of the Opposition and his own allies, who have thwarted reform measures in the past.

Analysts also believe that Singh’s job in the Finance Ministry has been made easy by Pranab Mukherjee, since much of the groundwork for the reforms have already been done. Mukherjee, on the last day in office on Monday, announced measures to boost the economy and stem the fall of rupee.

Still, the prime minister will have more to deliver as he is also expected to head over two dozen ministerial committees, which were until now headed by Mukherjee. Analysts said Singh will obviously have to head those committees, since, being a prime minister, he cannot work under any colleague.

Besides, Singh will also be required to spend more time in Parliament as he will be called upon to reply every now and then on issues regarding the economy.

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