NEW DELHI : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken temporary charge of the finance ministry, officials said Wednesday, at a time of slowing growth, stubbornly high inflation and a falling rupee.
The finance portfolio fell vacant Tuesday following the ministerial resignation of Pranab Mukherjee, who left to contend India’s presidential election in July.
“The prime minister has decided to look after the finance ministry for a month or two. A new finance minister will only be appointed when he thinks the time is right,” an official in Singh’s office told AFP.
India’s once-booming economy is suffering from slowing industrial growth, troublesome fiscal and current account deficits and a stalled reform agenda.
The economy grew just 5.3 percent in January to March, its slowest quarterly expansion in nine years.
A former governor of the International Monetary Fund, Singh previously served as finance minister between 1991 and 1996, when he famously launched the reforms that opened the Indian economy.
Singh’s squeaky-clean public image has been tarnished in recent years by high-profile corruption scandals in his government, and a series of major reform U-turns have led to charges of policy drift and weakness.