Budget likely on Feb 1, preparations on

Tags: Policy
The finance ministry has started preparations to present the budget for the next financial year on February 1, one month ahead of the traditional schedule in order to complete the entire process by March 31, a top official said.

“There are three major changes that we are undertaking for the next year (budget). First presentation of budget is advanced by about a month. We expect budget to be presented around February 1,” economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Friday.

The Union budget has traditionally been presented on the last day of February. The parliament, which goes into a recess after budget presentation, reconvenes in April and approval is in place only by the middle of May. After that, monsoon season begins which delay states’ expenditure plans.

To ensure that states get a full-year to implement their expenditure plans, the Modi government has decided to bring forward the budget presentation date to February 1 and complete the entire process by March 31.

Besides, the government has also decided to merge the railway and Union budgets and do away with the distinction of plan and non-plan expenditure from the coming financial year.

The pre-budget meetings for revised expenditure estimates as well as for the next budget's estimates have already started, Das said.

“Revenue Department has also started the pre-budget consultations with the various stakeholders and finance minister's consultation with major stakeholders are also planned to be held in advance,” he said.

“So, all the preparations have been roughly advanced by about a month. Preparations are very much under control and we will be able to present the Budget around February 1,” Das said.

He added that the idea is to get the budget passed by parliament along with Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill by the end of March, as this would ensure implementation of the Budget proposals from April 1.

On fiscal deficit hitting 20-year high of 83.9 per cent of the budget estimate, Das said, typically it looks very high in the first half of the year because revenues start coming in the second half of the year.

“Expenditures are evenly paced all through the year. So there is a mismatch between revenues and expenditure in the first. As we proceed in the second half revenue starts coming in and expenditure gets evened out. Therefore, fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent for the current fiscal will be met,” he said.

For the current financial year, he said, the growth would be upwards of 7.6 per cent as agriculture sector has shown improvement.

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