Chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian resigns, will return to US

India’s Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian is standing down after serving for nearly four years and would return to the United States, union minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.

‘He would like to go back to the United States on account of pressing family commitments. ..He left me with no option but to agree with him,’ Arun Jaitley said in a Facebook post. Subramanian’s term would not be extended, Jaitley said.

Jaitley did not specify when Subramanian would leave his post. Subramanian later said said he will leave the finance ministry in a month or two with the ‘best of memories’.

Subramanian joined as the chief economic adviser on October 16, 2014 for a period of three years, which was extended by another year till October 2018.

In his Facebook note titled ‘Thank you Arvind’, Jaitley said Subrmanian had been ‘torn between family commitment and his current job’ when he had requested him to continue at the post last year.

Subramanian expressed his desire to go back to the United States to Jaitley over video-conferencing, he said.

The CEA is usually the key go-to person for advice for the finance minister on macro-economic matters, and primary responsibilities, among others, include authoring the mid-year analysis and the Economic Survey.

Outlining some of his key achievement, the minister said Subramanian’s four Economic Surveys ‘have been judged by several independent critics as some of the best ever produced’.

‘He [Subramanian] thought ahead and, therefore, came out with futuristic ideas on rationalisation of removal of ‘subsidies for the rich’, universal basic income, climate change, from ‘socialism without entry and capitalism without exit’ and the four C’s that he had historically paralysed decision making’, Jaitley wrote.

Responding to Jaitley’s announcement, Subramanian said his job as the CEA has been the most ‘rewarding, fulfilling, exciting’ he ever had.

The opposition Congress said Subramanian’s exit was not a surprise as all ‘financial experts’ in the Narendra Modi government are fed up of its ‘collossal economic mismanagement” and are stepping down.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala cited the examples of ex-Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan in this regard.

The CEA found himself in the centre of a controversy last year, when he said commenting on the beef ban would cost him his job. His strong criticism of the Reserve Bank of India’s stance on monetary policy, when it did not reduce interest rates in May 2017, also attracted a lot of attention.

Before moving to New Delhi as the CEA, Subramanian had advised the Indian government in various capacities. He was also a part of the finance minister’s expert group on the G-20.

Subramanian also worked as an assistant director in the International Monetary Fund’s research department during the course of his career. Besides this, he was associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (1988-92) during the Uruguay round of trade negotiations, and taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1999-2000) and Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies (2008-10).


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