New Delhi: Just days ahead of the Interim Budget, the Finance portfolio has been reassigned to Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal as the current incumbent Arun Jaitley is in the United States undergoing medical treatment.
“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, hereby directed that during the period of indisposition of Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister; the portfolios of Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs held by him, be temporarily assigned to Shri Piyush Goyal, in addition to his existing portfolios,” read a statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Arun Jaitley will remain a minister in the Modi cabinet without a portfolio.
“Further, as advised by the Prime Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley be designated as Minister without portfolio during the period of his indisposition or till such time he is able to resume his work as Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs,” added the statement.
Officially, the finance minister has said he is going on personal leave for two weeks to New York.
On Monday, kicking off the printing of the official budget documents, finance ministry officials organised the customary ‘halwa ceremony’ and it was the first time since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came into power that Arun Jaitley could not be present for the event.
The Modi government is gearing up for what could be a crucial interim budget. It is reportedly planning important pre-election measures such as a universal income transfer scheme for farmers on the lines of Rythu Bandhu in Telangana.
There is also talk of interest-free bank loans to small farmers with the government bearing the interest burden and raising the exemption limit for income tax-payers.
This is the second time that Piyush Goyal will be heading the Finance Ministry. In May 2018, Goyal took over as Finance Minister while Jaitley was recovering from a kidney transplant surgery.