Home / Politics / Policy /  Union Budget to be presented around 1 February: Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday confirmed that next year’s Union budget will be presented around 1 February.

He implicitly disclosed the dates, while exhorting the state governments to advance their budget schedule, too, so that they are aligned with the Union budget.

“The Prime Minister mentioned that the Union budget presentation is being advanced by about a month to ensure the speedier implementation of projects and schemes. He urged all states to align their plans with this advancement, so that they could take maximum advantage of this move," a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said after Modi attended the PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation) meeting to review the work of projects and programmes of the government with state chief secretaries via video conferencing.

N.R. Bhanumurthy, a professor at New Delhi-based think tank National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said the prime minister is suggesting that the Union budget should serve as an input to state budgets so that they can plan and conceptualize their budgets better.

“Advancing state budgets will allow them to complete legislative procedures before the start of the finance year and start spending on time," he added.

With higher tax devolution to states as mandated by the 14th Finance Commission, the centre has substantially reduced the number of centrally sponsored schemes run by it, ending the “one size fits all" approach, allowing states to design programmes according to their local needs.

Last month, the Union cabinet decided to merge the railway budget with the Union budget and agreed in principle to advance the presentation of the Union budget, which in normal course is unveiled on the last day of February.

Implicitly, it also means the budget session of Parliament will be advanced. Usually, the budget session begins in the last week of February and runs till mid-May with a recess in between. Both Houses of Parliament clear the appropriation bill only in the second half of the budget session.

This is the second major shift in the budget schedule by a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

The previous NDA regime, under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001, changed the time of presenting the budget to 11am from the British era practice of presenting it at 5pm.

The government hopes advancing the date will help initiate revenue mobilization and capital expenditure measures right from the beginning of the fiscal year.

Though the date of presentation of the budget has not been finalized yet, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa earlier this month said the finance ministry is preparing the budget with an eye on 1 February as the likely day for its presentation.

“The final date will be decided by the government in consultation with Parliament and (considering) the election dates...We did a reverse calculation so that we know when it should be presented so that whatever time the Parliament committee requires for scrutiny and appraisal, all that time is available. This brought us to 1 February. It could be a day here or there, depending upon the final tuning," he said in an interview.

It is likely that the date of presentation of the budget may see another revision after the Shankar Acharya committee, tasked to examine the desirability and feasibility of having a new financial year, submits its report. Its report is due on 31 December.

India follows the April-March fiscal; most countries follow a January-December financial year.

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