The Narendra Modi government is all set to abolish over 90-year old tradition of presenting separate rail budget from next year onwards. Sources from Finance Ministry told ET Now that a call on the merger of Rail and Union Budget will be taken by September and Joint Working Group of Budget division & Railways is assessing merger possibilities. According to a report, Finance Ministry sources claimed that Arun Jaitley has given his nod for the merger of the Union Rail Budget with the Union Budget from next year. The practice of separate rail and general budget was started way-back in 1924.
The report quoting sources in the ministry said that the government has formed a five-member committee to chalk-out the modalities for the proposal. Railways minister Suresh Prabhu had himself written to Arun Jaitley-led finance ministry for the merger of both the budgets. After Prabhu wrote to Jaitley, the finance ministry started considering the proposal. Suresh Prabhu has said in Rajya Sabha that the Rail Budget should be merged with the general budget. “As far as Railway Budget is concerned… I have written a letter personally to the Finance Minister saying we are willing for merger (of Railway Budget with the General Budget). In fact, I had suggested even last year. So it’s not that I want to just present a budget. I am looking at a national interest,” Suresh Prabhu had said.
Bibek Debroy, who is a member of Niti Aayog, has also voiced support for the same. Debroy, in his note titled ‘Dispensing with the Rail Budget’, has urged for merger of both the budget terming the exercise as ‘mechanism to announce popular measures’. Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya also said that the move could become a reality next year.