Bibek Debroy may take over as PM’s Economic Advisor

Debroy is expected to have a role and responsibility similar to the erstwhile chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council

NEW DELHI: Noted economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy is expected to assume a wider role in the government. One of the options being considered is to appoint him as the economic advisor to the Prime Minister.

Debroy, who has been instrumental in bringing a transformational change in the Indian Railways during his stint as member of the Aayog, is expected to have a role and responsibility similar to the erstwhile chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC). The previous PMEAC was headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan, before it was wound up after the NDA government took charge.

Government officials indicated a move to shift Debroy to the new position was in the offing, but did not say when the actual shift would take place. Debroy didn’t respond to queries sent to him till the time of going to press.

It was based on the Debroy Committee’s recommendations that the central government abolished the British-era legacy of a separate Railway Budget and merged it with the General Budget and embarked on a path of changing the fiscal year from April-March to January-December.

The Debroy committee on restructuring of Indian Railways recommended liberalisation of the railways to attract private sector participation for project execution and setting up an independent regulator to promote competition. Debroy has also been a long-time proponent of pruning departments in large states to 30 in order to enable better coordination, governance and efficiency. In a blog published on the NITI Aayog website, the economist said that unless departments were pruned, schemes and laws, orders and regulations could not be pruned either.

Educated at Presidency College (Calcutta), Delhi School of Economics and Trinity College (Cambridge), Debroy began his career as a teacher at his alma mater, the Presidency College, and later at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (Delhi), and National Council of Applied Economic Research (Delhi). He has served as a consultant to the Department of Economic Affairs under the finance ministry.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry on Thursday dismissed speculations on the resignation of Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian. “CEA will continue. Reports regarding resignation are not correct,” the finance ministry said. Sources said Subramanian might be given an extension. But, this couldn’t be independently verified.