New Delhi: Union Minister Piyush Goyal was given temporary charge of the finance ministry late Wednesday night in a surprise development. This is a clear indication that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will not be making the presentation of the Interim Budget. Jaitley will hereafter be a minister without any portfolio.
Jaitley, who underwent a kidney transplant surgery last year, left for the United States for a medical check-up earlier this month. He has not yet returned and a news portal, The Wire, had claimed that he is being treated for cancer. The Interim Budget is to be presented on February 1. This is the last budget before the Lok Sabha elections, which will be held in the next few months.
The government is likely to make a departure from the norm in the interim budget to announce some important decisions. There could be key announcements for farmers and the middle class. Sources say that the agriculture sector can expect schemes that are aimed at unburdening farmers and increasing their incomes. The government is reportedly planning to increase the income tax exemption limit.
Goyal had filled in for Jaitley last year as well when the latter went on a three-month leave for the transplant. Goyal already handles the railways and coal ministries. He will now hold temporary charge of the finance and corporate affairs ministries. The Rashtrapati Bhavan in a statement said Arun Jaitley was “indisposed.” ‘
‘The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, hereby directs 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,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
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,” the statement also said.