New Delhi, Jan 31(Agencies): Ashok Chawla, who took over as Finance Secretary during the global economic downturn more than two years ago, retired on Monday from service without any successor named for the post.

With the Union Budget just less than a month away, government appointed R Gopalan, a 1976 batch IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, as the Economic Affairs Secretary in the
Finance Ministry.

He replaces Chawla, who was also Secretary in charge of Department of Economic Affairs.  Gopalan was already in the Finance Ministry as Financial Services Secretary. Chawla, who
belonged to the 1973-batch Gujarat cadre IAS, had taken charge as Finance Secretary in May 2009.

Sushma Nath, a 1974-batch Madhya Pradesh cadre of IAS, is the senior-most official in the ministry, but she is due to retire on March 31. She has been working as Secretary in the Expenditure Department of the Finance Ministry since April 2008.

Nath, Gopalan, along with Disinvestment Secretary Sumit Bose and Revenue Secretary Sunil Mitra would be the key persons assisting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who will unveil the Budget for 2011-12 in the Lok Sabha on February 28.

Meanwhile, the government today D K Mittal, a 1977 batch IAS officer of UP cadre, has been appointed as the Secretary of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. She will replace R Bandyopadhyay who retired today.

At present, Mittal is the Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has also approved appointment of R Gopalan, presently Secretary, Department of Financial Services as Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.