As the 25th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Shaktikanta Das will have his hands full while deciding on a number of policy issues and in resolving differences between the central bank and the government.
His agenda would include the RBI’s reserve money, liquidity to sectors such as NBFCs, and whether to relax the PCA framework norms for some banks.
He will also have to chair the next bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee meeting, which will come up in February. The MPC meet will take a decision on rates ahead of the General Elections. The RBI is set to hold a board meeting on December 14, which could be Das’s first major meeting after taking over.
Das, a former Economic Affairs Secretary, is known to be a seasoned bureaucrat with a cool and calm demeanour, who is well liked by his peers and juniors.
He maintains a balanced point of view and does not mince his words.
In fact, these qualities, along with his perceived closeness to the government, could help bridge the recent differences between the government and the RBI, which insiders term a breakdown in communications.
“It is now up to Das to decide what kind of relations, and the amount of freedom and autonomy the RBI will enjoy,” noted an expert, who did not wish to be named.
But as has been seen in the past, it is not a guarantee that officials who move from North Block to Mint Street, will follow the diktats of the government.
Former Finance Secretary D Subbarao and Raghuram Rajan (who was Chief Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry) had differences with the government in their respective terms as RBI Governor.
Das retired as Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry, and is at present a Member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission and India’s Sherpa to the G-20.
An officer of the Indian Administrative Service belonging to the 1980 batch of Tamil Nadu cadre, he retired on May 31, 2017.
While the government was keen to appoint a bureaucrat as RBI Governor, this time, after two economists at the helm – Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel – Das is seen as a virtual expert in economic policy-making, with stints in the State government and the Centre, and has worked closely with the RBI in the past.
Closely involved in the Budget-making exercise for a number of years, initially as Joint Secretary, Expenditure, and later in the Budget Division of the Finance Ministry, and subsequently as Additional Secretary, and Secretary, DEA, Das is known for having difficult numbers on fiscal targets at his fingertips.
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