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Modi Appoints Banker to Oversee Renewables, Coal, Power

According to reports, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed a former banker to oversee coal, power and clean-energy reforms in a move aimed at resolving fuel bottlenecks and chronic blackouts hampering economic growth.

Piyush Goyal was named minister of state for power, coal and renewable energy with independent charge, meaning he can take decisions without cabinet oversight, according to a government statement today. The 49-year-old chartered accountant and investment banker was treasurer of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and served on the board of the State Bank of India, the nation’s largest bank, according to his website.

The new government’s “intention is to debottleneck the system,” Goyal told reporters in Delhi, citing Modi’s overhaul of the energy industry in Gujarat state where as chief minister he returned state utilities to profit and eliminated blackouts.

Goyal has “strong pro-market credentials” and his background in finance will be an advantage, said Tobias Engelmeier, founder of Bridge to India Energy Pvt., a Delhi-based consulting company. “The sector needs to be financially turned around and privatization will play an important role.”

Goyal’s appointment as a minister with independent charge may also help ward off “political considerations” that could hamper reforms, Engelmeier said.

Modi pioneered India’s first incentives for large-scale solar power in Gujarat and called for a clean-energy revolution during the campaign.

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