THE GOVERNMENT has decided to extend Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian’s tenure by two more years, till October 2019. He was appointed as the CEA in October 2014 for a three-year tenure. Subramanian has served as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s sounding board and has, over the last three years, brought new ideas in public discourse. He was closely involved in drafting the Goods and Services Tax Act. His most recent Economic Survey captured a range of political economy issues at the heart of a changing India. Like the finding, based on rail passenger traffic, that annual migration within India touched 9 million, much higher than previously estimated.
Last October, he chose Sabarmati to flag the idea of a “universal basic income” scheme. He dwelt on it at length in the Economic Survey too, suggesting that it could replace the 1,000-odd benefit or subsidy schemes that are currently in place.
Subramanian has also pushed for higher spends by the government at a time when the private sector was reluctant to invest, and advocated the setting up of a state-owned asset reconstruction company to take care of the mounting bad loans problem. The office of the CEA remained vacant for over a year after Raghuram Rajan was appointed Reserve Bank of India Governor in September 2013.