Former Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar appointed PESB chief

New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) Former finance secretary Rajiv Kumar was on Wednesday appointed as the chairperson of the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), the government's headhunter for top level posts in public sector undertakings.

Kumar, a 1984 batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, retired as finance secretary in February this year.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved his appointment as the PESB chairperson for a period of three years, according to a Personnel Ministry order.

The PESB does top level recruitments in central public sector enterprises. Kumar will succeed Kapil Dev Tripathi, who has been recently appointed as the Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind.

Kumar has been credited with bringing in key reforms in banking and bureaucracy during his stints in the finance ministry and the Ministry of Personnel. He steered the banking and financial sector through the severest crisis.

Kumar took over as the Secretary, Department of Financial Services in September 2017 when most of the public sector banks including the State Bank of India were in losses.

He was designated as the finance secretary in July 2019 by the government. Known for taking bold decisions, Kumar brought in fundamental changes in the banking sector and played a crucial role in merging 10 public sector banks into four, officials said.

He was also instrumental in brokering peace between the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that resulted in the smooth transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore of the central bank's surplus to the exchequer last year, they said.

During his two-and-a-half year stint as Financial Services Secretary, several policy decisions were taken to promote responsive and responsible banking, the officials said.

A massive Rs 3 lakh crore recapitalization of banks was undertaken during his tenure. Before joining the finance ministry, Kumar was the Establishment Officer (EO) in the Personnel Ministry.

He played a key role in bringing in a 360 degree appraisal system for promotion and empanelment of senior bureaucrats during his stint in the Personnel Ministry.

Kumar was also instrumental in streamlining the promotion and appointment process done by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), they said. Incidentally, a compendium of guidelines pertaining to board-level appointments in the Central Public Sector Enterprises was issued by Kumar when he worked as the EO in 2017.