UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey to Replace Hasmukh Adhia as Revenue Secretary
Ajay Bhushan Pandey (Photo credit: Twitter)

New Delhi, November 17: UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey will be the new Finance Secretary, replacing Hasmukh Adhia -- the Gujarat-cadre IAS officer who is set to retire on November 30. Pandey, a 1984-batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, would continue to hold the additional charge of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO and Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) Chairman till further instructions, according to an order issued by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

The committee also announced that Girish Chandra Murmu, the 1985-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer who is presently Special Secretary at Revenue Department, would replace Expenditure Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha when he retires on January 31 next year. Adhia, who turned 60 earlier this month, had an eventful stint as Finance Secretary during the days of demonetisation and the ushering in of the GST regime. The IAS officer worked in the Finance Ministry for four years including the last three years as Revenue Secretary.

The announcement of his retirement put to rest all speculation of his getting an extension, unlike in the past when the tenure of Secretaries in the ministry were usually extended if it ended close to the Union Budget's presentation. Announcing Adhia's retirement in a Facebook post, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government wanted him to continue in some "alternate" capacity but he declined to do so.

"He (Adhia) had informed me earlier this year that he would not work for a single day after November 30. His time thereafter belongs to his favourite passion (spirituality and yoga) and of course his son," Jaitley said in the post.

While wishing him a good post-retirement life, Jaitley commended Adhia's contributions as Revenue Secretary for bringing a series of reforms including execution of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and making the income tax filing process online with no physical interface between the assessee and the assessment official. In a series of tweets, Adhia expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Jaitley for their guidance and leadership during his four-year stint.

"My special gratitude to the Prime Minister for his guidance and to Arun Jaitley ji for having acknowledged my contribution publicly," the outgoing Secretary said. As Revenue Secretary, Adhia's term witnessed the introduction of a nationwide indirect tax egime, evolving a Centre-states consensus on the multiple GST laws and drafting the rules and fixing tariffs that made it possible to meet the deadline of July 1, 2017 for the GST roll-out, Jaitley said.

Rate reductions and smoothening of the rough edges were also achieved in a record time during Adhia's tenure, he added. "Adhia's tenure saw an exponential increase in tax base and the tax realisations... The follow-up after demonetisation in detecting the large cash depositors and making them accountable was no mean challenge. Adhia executed these steps with calm and professionalism," he said.

Jaitley also appreciated Adhia's prior role as Financial Services Secretary in successfully implementing various social security programmes, including the MUDRA Yojana, which is targeted at funding micro units.