Piyush Goyal to fill in as finance minister amidst delay in Jaitley’s return from US

New Delhi: Union minister Piyush Goyal has been handed the additional charge of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Afffairs, just a week before the Union Budget 2019 has to be tabled before Parliament.

The upcoming Budget 2019 is a keenly awaited one, for the street is in a guessing game over whether the Narendra Modi government will go for big bang policy and relief measures, or will it follow the convention of presenting only a vote on account ahead of the general election 2019. Earlier last week, Arun Jaitley had dropped hints that the Budget 2019 could include big ticket announcements that can’t wait, even as it would not be fiscally expansionary.

This is Modi government’s fifth and last budget, as the country heads for a Lok Sabha election, presumably some time in March-April. As a convention, the governments headed for general election do not present a full budget, so as not to leave the next government with a legacy of its proposed expenses and schemes.

Goyal, who already is in-charge of the Railway and Coal ministries, will now stand in for Arun Jaitley till the time he is indisposed.

In a communique issued Wednesday, Rashtrapati Bhavan stated that Jaitley has been designated as “Minister without portfolio” until he is able to “resume” work.

Jaitley had left for the US after the winter session of Parliament and was expected to be back later this week — in time to present the Vote on Account on February 1 in the Budget session.

Quoting sources, PTI reported that Jaitley had undergone surgery in a New York hospital and was advised a two-week rest.

“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,” the communique stated.

“Further, as advised by the Prime Minister, 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 communique stated.