Picking up a retired bureacrat over the insurers, the government on Tuesday appointed Subhash Chandra Khuntia, 60, a retired IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer, who recently retired as a chief secretary of Karnataka, as the new chairman of the insurance regulator IRDAI, for three years..
Khuntia, an IAS officer of 1981 batch, confirmed his appointment as the new IRDAI chief to Asia Insurance Post.
“I am yet to get my appointment.letter,'' he said..
The appointment committee of cabinet(ACC) has approved the appointment of SC Khutia, IAS(Retd) to the post of chairperson of IRDAI for amperiod of three years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post or till the age of 65 or till further orders, said an notification of Depart of Personnel & Training(DOPT).on Tuesday.
Today, being a holiday, the ministry of finance will notify the order in day or two, said ministry of finance sources.This is also the first time that government has given a reduced term of three years while all the chairmen earlier had got five years term, .
The IRDAI chairman’s post was lying vacant since the superannuation of TS Vijayan on 20 February.
Khuntia, who retired as the chief secretary of Karnataja in Nov 1917, was the lone bureaucrat among the nine candidates- who belonged to the domestic insurance and pension industry- who had appeared for the interview for IRDAI chairmanship conducted by the powerful Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee(FSRAC) headed by cabinet secretary, PK Sinha, on Feb 5..
Before being appointed as the chief secretary of Karnataka in Oct 2016, he was special secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum. He has a range of educational qualifications including LLB, MA (Sociology), MSc (Phyiscs) M.Tech (Comp. Sc.), Ph.D. (Economics), M.A (Economics), M.A (Political.Science) M.A (Philosophy).
With Khuntia’s appointment, the government after a gap of five years, when Vijayan, a former chairman of the LifeInsurance Corporation was the chairman of IRDAI between 2013-18-has once again picked up a bureaucrat over the insurers.
Out of the four occasions, since 1999, when the IRDAI was formed after the IRDAI Act was in place, bureaucrats have alreay held the pos of chairmanship thrice.
Ministry of finance sources pointed out while selecting Khuntia, the government has kept in mind its 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(NHPS) and is expected to launch a few more in future.
The other eight candidates who had appeared for the interview include Nilesh Sathe, member(Life), IRDAI, BS Bhandari, member, PFRDA, G Srinivasan, CMD, New India Assurance, AV Girija Kumar CMD, Oriental Insurance Company, VK Sharma, chairman, Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) and three managing directors of the LIC – Hemant Bhargava, Sunita Sharma and B Venugopal.
Khuntia, sources said, will have a huge agenda to focus and deliver during his three year stint at the Hyderabad based insurance regulator..
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 inclusive development. They cite the fact that the industry has not been able to achieve higher penetration even after 18 years liberalisation as one of the lacuna of the current set of regulations.