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Dilemma over choice of revenue secretary

New Delhi, May 20: The Prime Ministerís Office (PMO), which ratifies all high level appointments, is in a fix over the appointment of the new revenue secretary who would replace C.S. Rao, the current incumbent, who is retiring.

While finance minister Jaswant Singh is known to have thrown his weight behind .S. Sisodia, secretary, defence production, the strong IAS lobby would like either the current banking secretary Vineeta Rai or expenditure secretary D.C. Gupta to take over.

Singh is believed to have preferred Sisodia as he is known to be an extremely capable and upright officer who is unlikely to be influenced by corporate lobbyists. But both Rai and Gupta also have clean records and strong backers for the coveted job. Besides the prestige enjoyed by any revenue secretary, the job enables the incumbent to wield immense power over corporate houses seeking various kinds of exemptions, tax rebates or even out-of-court settlements for various tax offences.

In the past, there have been allegations that top Mumbai-based corporate houses have lobbied to have one or the other officer appointed as revenue secretary. Luckily for those in the fray this time, there are no such allegations doing the rounds.

The government is also likely to appoint Adarsh Kishore, additional secretary in the ministry of finance as special secretary, banking.

At present, Kishore looks after external finance, Indiaís relations with the World Bank, IMF and ADB. He is believed to have handled these portfolios well.

The job of finance secretary is likely to be taken up by petroelum secretary B.K. Chaturvedi. Sources said Cabinet secretary Kamal Pande has been in touch with the finance minister with a list of possible candidates and Chaturvedi has emerged as the most likely choice.

Chaturvedi has served in the finance ministry earlier looking after banking and insurance and is believed to have handled the the issues of non-performing assets and restructuring of weak banks effectively.

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