Next Budget May Be Presented In January

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New Delhi: The government is looking to change the British-era legacy of presenting the Union Budget on the last day of February and may advance the date by a month.

While a final decision is yet to be taken, sources said the government is considering completing the budget exercise before the end of the financial year on March 31 so that policy transmission is faster and departments are able to spend the funds from the start of the year instead of waiting until May for money to be actually allocated.

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“We have not decided the date but it may be at the end of January,” said a source, adding that preparations for Republic Day have to be kept in mind. Currently, the budget process including passage of the Appropriations Bill for expenditure and the Finance Bill for tax changes are cleared by the Parliament in the first or second week of May.

Along with the Budget, the government seeks parliamentary approval for undertaking spending during the few weeks of new financial year. The move comes at a time when the Centre has decided upon introducing a slew of changes in economic policy from next financial year, along with changes in the way the budget has been presented.

The Constitution does not stipulate a date for presentation of the Budget. Until 1999, the Budget was presented at 5 pm, in keeping with the British tradition. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, however, changed the time to 11 am, snapping its links with colonial legacy. The review comes ahead of UP polls, which in 2012 had forced the UPA regime to defer the Budget to March.

Separately, the government has set up a panel to review the financial year and the committee is expected to present its report later in the year. A change in the date will also force finance ministry to rework budget calendar with review meetings starting in September or early October.

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