With less than six weeks to go before Finance Secretary S Narayan retires, two IAS officers of the 1965 batch, Dipak Chatterjee and B K Chaturvedi, have emerged as the frontrunners for the post.
However, officials close to the developments said Finance Minister Jaswant Singh might decide to choose a professional from outside. Among the names doing the rounds is Deepak Parekh, chairman of the Housing Development Finance Corporation.
Parekh has been a member of most of the committees on capital markets and related issues constituted by the finance ministry in the past few years. These include the expert committee on capital markets set up after the stock scam of 2001 as well as the three-member Malegam committee on restructuring Unit Trust of India.
Chatterjee is now the commerce secretary, and Chaturvedi petroleum secretary. What may tilt the scales in favour of Parekh is the finance minister's preference for at least a two-year tenure for senior level appointments in the ministry. Chatterjee and Chaturvedi will retire in June and July 2004, respectively.
Singh is reported to have asked the department of personnel and training to ensure that the chiefs of the Central Board of Excise and Customs and the Central Board of Direct Taxes have a minimum tenure of two years.
If Parekh is selected, he will be the second entrant from the private sector as secretary. Power Secretary R V Shahi was heading BSES before joining the government.
Banking Secretary Vineeta Rai is expected to switch to the revenue department after incumbent C S Rao retires at the end of May. The other secretaries in the finance ministry are Chief Economic Adviser Ashok Lahiri, D C Gupta (expenditure) and V K Dhall (company affairs).