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'Father of VAT' Amaresh Bagchi dead
BS Reporter in New Delhi | February 21, 2008 15:36 IST
Eminent economist and scholar of public finance, Amaresh Bagchi, died on Wednesday. He was 77.
Bagchi, who complained of stomach pain on Tuesday, had been taken to a hospital for treatment, said a member of his personal staff. He is survived by wife, a son and daughter and three grand-children. The cremation is scheduled for Thursday.
Bagchi has written extensively on public finance, in particular on tax policy, tax administration and fiscal federalism. His 1993 report on "reform of consumption taxes in India" kickstarted discussion about the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) at the state level. The current idea for a goods and services tax (GST) is also said to have originated from the same report.
"If anyone, I could recall as the father of VAT in India, it is he," said Satya Poddar, Partner, Ernst & Young, who has closely worked with Bagchi on many occasions.
Bagchi was currently serving as a member in the Commission on Centre State Relations and as an Emeritus Professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), New Delhi.
"We lost a great friend, a senior academician who has shaped NIPFP right from its inception. He was the edifice on which the institution prospered. He was a scholar of great eminence, with vast experience in the area of public finance. We will miss a great friend and a scholar to whom one could always look up to for advice," said M Govinda Rao, the institute director.
"As a person he was simplicity personified. He was a man with tremendous humility and always cared for the poor and disadvantaged," Rao added.
In his long and varied career, Bagchi served as a professor and then director at NIPFP. He also served in the finance ministry as officer on special duty (OSD) with responsibilities of economic adviser. Later, Bagchi was appointed as a member in the Eleventh Finance Commission and subsequently served as a member in the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.
"He was deeply committed to fundamental reforms of the fiscal system in India. He had very good understanding of the real problems of India. He could balance conflicting economic objectives with ease," said Poddar.