NEW DELHI: The Union Budget 2017-18 is likely to be presented on February 1, a decision that is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet on Wednesday.A senior official in the government confirmed that the Election Commission has not raised any objection to the government’s proposed move to advance the Budget. However, an affirmation to the government’s proposal was necessary from the Election Commission, to ensure that, it does not violate the model code of conduct.
The in-principle decision to end the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Union budget on last day of February and advance it by about a month was taken on September 21 this year.The government, last month, also decided to scrap the 92-year old practice of having a separate railway budget, merging it with the general budget.
The code of conduct would come into effect once the Election Commission announces the date for scheduled assembly elections in five states.
Meanwhile, the government has already indicated that it wishes to advance the budget presentation by a month, which could have clashed with state elections for Assembly in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
Sources in finance Ministry said, the Election Commission, has clarified that Budget presentation is an annual financial statement and can be presented by the Government, as and when it deems necessary for operation of financial system in the country.
Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had reasoned the need for advancing the date for Budget and proposed that the Budget presentation be fixed for February 1 and the entire exercise be completed by March 24. It wanted the Budget Session of Parliament to begin before January 25 and go in for a three-week break between February 10-15 before reconvening between March 10-15 to complete the legislative exercise.
“We want the entire budgetary exercise to be over and the Finance Bill to be passed and implemented from April 1 onwards rather than June because then the monsoon sets in and the expenditures start in October,” stated Jaitley last week.