The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved advancing the Union Budget date, as against the traditional practise of the last day of the month of February. “The actual date of Budget presentation will be decided after taking into account dates of assembly elections. The Budget exercise will be completed before March 31,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. This is part of an overhaul that is also meant to scrap the practice of a separate railway budget. TV reports suggest that the Cabinet has also approved the proposal to do away with plan and non-plan expenditure distinction. According to the proposal, the government will advance the entire Budget-making exercise by 3-4 weeks. This is being done with the purpose of completing the legislative part of financial business before April 1, the start of a financial year.
Sources have told PTI that the the government plans to convene the Budget Session of Parliament before January 25, 2017, present the pre-Budget Economic Survey a day or two before the finance minister reads out the Budget on February 1. This would also mean, that the advance estimates for GDP will now be made on January 7 instead of February 7. Additionally, the mid-year review of expenditure by various ministries is likely to be completed by November 15. The idea is to get the Budget passed by Parliament along with Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill before March 24. This would ensure implementation of the Budget proposals from April 1. With the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST), the changes in excise and service tax, which are normally proposed in the general budget, would shift to the GST Council and hence, there would be less onerous Finance Bill for Parliament to debate, sources said.