A New Beginning, Says PM Modi, About Budget Being Advanced
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged parties “to help in the smooth functioning” of parliament , pointing out that “this is the first time the budget has been advanced by a month.” Mr Modi said “a new beginning is being made,” pointing out that for the first time ever, the railway budget has been merged with the annual budget, ending a nearly century-long practice, while the date of the general budget, usually the last working day in February, has been advanced to ensure proposals take effect from April 1, the start of the new financial year.
The Trinamool Congress headed by Mamata Banerjee has announced that it will not be present tomorrow when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the government’s annual budget. The party has said that its requests to delay the budget because it coincides with the important festival of Saraswati Puja have been ignored.
“In the last few days, we have had discussions with the opposition parties in public interest,” said PM Modi as he arrived at parliament. His government has been under attack from the opposition over the sudden demonetization drive that was launched on November 8.
With 500- and 1,000-rupee notes cancelled at short notice, 86% of the cash in circulation was abolished, leading to a large cash crunch. Weekly restrictions on how much cash can be accessed by individuals have still to be lifted.
Today, the government will present the Economic Survey, which sets the scene for the Finance Minister’s fourth annual budget.
The budget session will be held in two parts as happens every year.
The first part ends next week on February 9. The houses will reconvene on March 9 and the session will end on April 12.
The budget this year is being tagged as the most challenging yet for the Finance Minister on account of the radical monetary shock therapy that his government has administered.
Judging how quickly the economy will recover is a tough call, making Mr Jaitley’s revenue projections a shot in the dark.
A delay in the launch of a new national sales tax has added to the uncertainty. The Goods and Services tax (GST) is expected to improve tax compliance and check evasion, but the union and state governments have yet to work out its details.
Officials say the budget will likely offer modest tax concessions and ramp up spending to help the economy recover. Paying for those giveaways may require Mr Jaitley to slow the pace of fiscal tightening, officials told news agency Reuters.