Garg, 58, was the senior-most bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry heading the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), and was designated the Finance Secretary. However, in a surprise move, he was named Power Secretary in an order issued late Wednesday.
He applied for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) on Thursday morning and will serve the mandatory three-month notice period in his new place of posting.
“Handed over charge of Economic Affairs today. Learnt so much in the Finance Ministry and Economic Affairs Dept. Will take charge in Power Ministry tomorrow. Have also applied for Voluntary Retirement from the IAS with effect from 31st October,” Garg said in a tweet.
His tweet came after he handed over charge to Atanu Chakraborty, who came from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) to replace him.
Garg, who used ‘@SecretaryDEA’ handle to tweet, said this was his “last tweet from this handle”.
“I am required to give three months notice so I have given three months notice,” Garg told reporters while leaving from North Block– the seat of Finance Ministry.
As DEA Secretary, he was in charge of fiscal policy and RBI-related matters. He was closely involved in the preparation of Union Budget and was overseeing a plan to sell the country’s maiden offshore sovereign bonds.
The decision to issue sovereign bonds was criticised by certain quarters including former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, prime minister economic advisory council member Rathin Roy and ex-central bank head C Rangarajan.
His stint was marked by the acrimonious relationship between the government and the RBI caused by the Finance Ministry’s insistence that the central bank should ease lending rules and shed its excess capital reserves. The period saw the resignation of RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
He was part of the panel that studied the transfer of RBI’s excess reserves to the government and was the only dissenting member.
Garg’s shift to the Power Ministry, which is considered to be of a low-profile than the Finance Ministry, came just a day after Parliamentary procedure for approval of the Modi 2.0 government’s maiden union budget for 2019-20 was completed.
If he hadn’t applied for VRS, he would have retired from government service at the end of October 2020 on attaining 60 years of age.
A 1983-batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre, Garg came to the centre in 2014 and was appointed Executive Director in the World Bank where he stayed till 2017, when he was appointed DEA Secretary in June 2017. In March 2019, he was elevated as the Finance Secretary following the retirement of A N Jha.
Before Garg, the government had in October 2014 shunted out the then finance secretary Arvind Mayaram to a low-profile tourism ministry.
As per convention, the senior-most among the five secretaries in the Finance Ministry is designated as the Finance Secretary.
The secretaries in the Finance Ministry are Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar (1984-batch, Jharkhand cadre), Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey (1984-batch Bihar cadre), DEA Secretary Atanu Chakraborty (1985-batch, Gujarat cadre), Expenditure Secretary G C Murmu (1985-batch, Gujarat cadre) and DIPAM Secretary Anil Kumar Khachi (1986-batch, Himachal Pradesh cadre).