Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority chief differs with finance ministry over new post

There is a difference of opinion between the chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the finance ministry over the creation of a new post in the regulatory body. IRDA chief J Hari Narayan chose to stay away from a meeting to fill the new position even as the panel comprising bureaucrats shortlisted two candidates.

The appointment in question is for the post of member distribution, a new secondrung position in the regulatory body. Hari Narayan feels that it is crucial to have a second-rung position with the objective of protecting consumer rights. Speaking to TOI, Hari Narayan said, “Since prima facie the role of IRDA is consumer protection, we should have a member consumer affairs and to give a new perspective to consumer protection, it would be best if we had someone from outside the insurance industry.”

According to sources, the panel shortlisted two zonal managers from the Life Insurance Corporation, A P Singh and D D Singh, for the position. Incidentally, another panel also met and interviewed nine candidates to succeed Hari Narayan, who retires in February.

IRDA originally had a provision for five fulltime members, each looking into life, non-life, investments, actuary and pension, respectively. However, with the pension regulatory authority being created, it was decided that the post of the fifth full-time member remained vacant. The government, subsequently, decided to restate the fifth member’s responsibility to be part of distribution and advertised seeking applications in September 2012.

A panel, which included the IRDA chief and senior bureaucrats, was constituted to shortlist candidates. Other members include finance secretary D K Mittal, economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram, secretary, department of personnel, P KMisra and SB Mathur, former chief of Life Insurance Corporation and a part-time member at IRDA. The IRDA chairman wrote to the ministry saying that there was a need for a member to look into consumer affairs rather than distribution. After the shortlisting process, the IRDA chief raised the issue that the two candidates had not obtained clearances from the chief vigilance officers of their respective organizations. However, the panel was of the view that since the appointments would not be finalized without a clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission, this was a technicality.

Meanwhile, another government panel has shortlisted two candidates for the position of the managing director at Life Insurance Corporation – S B Mainak, ED in charge of investments, and SK Roy, zonal manager.

The candidates who were interviewed recently for the position of IRDA chief included LIC chairman DK Mehrotra, former LIC chairman TS Vijayan petroleum secretary GC Chaturvedi, IT secretary R Chandrasekhar, Niranjan Pant and Kamalji Sahay.

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