In 18 days, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the Union Budget for 2009-10 to Parliament. The budget document isn’t just a statement of accounts, it’s also a charter of the government’s economic policies. So it is the most awaited policy document in India’s economic calendar.
Behind the document, however, is a long and complex policymaking process. As part of a special series on the budget, Mint presents the steps involved in creating the budget, the factors and the people involved.
Also See A Guide to the Union Budget Documents (PDF)
“Sir, with these words, I commend the budget to the House.” These words, traditionally said at the end of the finance minister’s (FM’s) budget speech, mark the culmination of perhaps the most complex annual economic exercise in the country. Budget speeches have helped chart the country’s future direction at the macro level (such as when Manmohan Singh allowed 51% foreign direct investment in certain sectors in 1991) to the micro (such as when Morarji Desai specified the number of matchsticks (50) that a matchbox could contain in order to get excise exemptions in 1962).
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The process of making the budget—as much a statement of intent for the forthcoming year as a bookkeeping exercise—usually starts around September.
This year, the full budget is being tabled in July as the new government assumed charge in May.
Compiled by Sanjiv Shankaran. Illustrations by Jayachandran/Mint