New Delhi: Finance minster Pranab Mukherjee will unveil the Union Budget on 6 July, while the railway budget will be presented on 3 July, the cabinet decided on Monday.
Parliament’s budget session is scheduled to begin on 2 July and conclude on 7 August. The Congress party- led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has initiated efforts to enlist opposition parties as well as its allies to get the Budget passed before 31 July, the deadline for the spending authorized by the vote-on-account.
Continuing his pre-budget discussions, Mukherjee on Monday held a meeting with the Congress office bearers at the party headquarters. According to the Congress leaders who attended the meeting, most participants suggested that the UPA, which comfortably returned to power, should focus on infrastructure, agriculture, education and health sectors.
Gearing up: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Vijay Verma / PTI
“We suggested that infrastructure should be given focus as it is a multiplier in terms of development as well as employment generation. In fact, we support anything that revives the economy,” said Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson and member of Parliament. Mukherjee, who opened the discussions with a brief remark on global slowdown and cited history to explain how former US president Ronald Reagan and former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher survived the economic crisis, told party colleagues that he would take all suggestions into consideration.
One party general secretary raised concern over the increasing incentives to the information technology and biotechnology sectors and proposed more allocations for public sector units (PSUs). He suggested that, if necessary, PSUs in the same sectors, such as profit-making Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and loss-making Indian Telephone Industries Ltd, should be merged.
Congress leaders also appealed to Mukherjee that the UPA government’s ambitious food security for the poor—aimed to providing a statutory basis for a framework that assures food security for all—should be announced in the Budget.
Alerting the government about the precipitous fall in groundwater levels, Congress leaders also said the Budget should give adequate importance and funds to combat climate change.