Even as TS Vijyan, chairman, IRDAI will be retiring within a week after reaching 65 and completing his five-year tenure, the powerful Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee(FSRAC) headed by cabinet secretary, PK Sinha has shortlisted names of 10 contenders from insurance industry and bureacracy, out of over three dozens who applied for the post, to be interviewed for choosing a new IRDAI chief.
The position will fall vacant on February 21, 2018.
The names which have been shortlisted by the FSRAC are-Nilesh Sathe, member(Life), IRDAI, G Srinivasan, CMD, New India Assurance, K Sanath Kumar, CMD, National Insurance Company, VK Sharma, chairman, Life Insurance Corporation and three managing directors of the LIC – Hemant Bhargava, Sunita Sharma and B Venugopal and three retired chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka.
Going by the list of shortlisting of candidates, once again, it will be bureaucrats versus insurers who are competing for one of the coveted posts in the Indian financial sector.
However,there have been speculations that the search committee may go beyond the list of candidates who have applied for the post and may consider some other names like former chairman of State Bank of India(SBI) Arundhati Bhattacharya , former economic affairs secretary, Shaktikant Dash, and former banking and insurance secretary Anjali Chib Duggal.
Out of the four occasions, since 1999, when the IRDAI was formed after the IRDAI Act was in place, , bureaucrats have held the positions thrice. Vijayan has been the lone insurer -who was appointed in 2013- to have held the position.
Industry observers point out that the FSRAC, while selecting the right candidate for the IRDAI chairmanship, has to keep in mind government’s priorities for the insurance sector. Modi government has launched some of the mass schemes like, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, (PMJJY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). National Health Protection Scheme(NHPC) and is expected to launch a few more in future.
“Obviously, government would like to have somebody at the IRDAI who can effectively monitor the implementation of these schemes by the insurance industry smoothly ,’’ said industry observers.
There have been also criticisms from one school of thought that believe that the current rules of the IRDAI are more focused on regulating the industry than steering the industry towards path of development.They cite the fact that the industry has not been able to achieve higher penetration in recent years as one of the lacuna of the current set of regulations.
This is also for the first that somebody will be in the charge of the chairmanship of Hyderabad based regulator, temporarily, as it will take sometime before a new ncubment is ready. In all earlier occasions, the successor was chosen much in advance .It is yet to be seen whether the temporary charge is given to a member at IRDAI or a senior official of the ministry of finance.Sathe is the senior most member of the IRDAI and looks after majority of departments of the regulator
IRDAI has also currently two vacancies of members- Finance and Distribution. Though the same seach committee had already completed the interview in November 2017, the results are yet to be out.
Meanwhile S Bandopadhya, who retired as the CEO of the LIC Pension Fund in Jan 2-18, has been appointed as the member Finance, PFRDA.In fact this the first interview in the insurance and pension industry, conducted by the serach committee headed by Sinha.
Cabinet Secretary Sinha heads the committee while additional principal secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra,- a permanent government nominee in the panel- Rajiv Kumar, Secretary , department of financial services and Ajay Mittal,secretary, department of personnel and training along with Bimal N Patel from Gujarat National Law University are other members of the panel.