Finance ministry seeks inputs for next budget speech

NEW DELHI: The finance ministry has sought inputs from different central ministries for Arun Jaitley‘s budget speech, which would be the last budget of the current BJP-led NDA government before the 2019 general polls.

“Kindly provide the requisite information or inputs relating to your department in quadruplicate by November 30, 2018,” the ministry said in a reminder to all other ministries and departments.

The finance ministry has requested the ministries to send material related to their departments that may merit inclusion in the finance minister’s budget speech for 2019-20.

Last month, the ministry began the budgetary exercise for 2019-20. During the process, meetings were being held with ministries of steel, power, and housing and urban development, among others, to finalise revised expenditure for the current fiscal and projections for the next financial year.

In view of the upcoming general elections, the government is likely to come out with an interim budget, also referred to as vote-on-account.

The Union Budget is presented on February 1.

Jaitley is scheduled to present his sixth consecutive Budget with 2019 being vote-on-account.

As per the practice, a vote-on-account or approval for essential government spending for a limited period is taken in an election year and a full-fledged budget is presented by the new government.

While P Chidambaram had presented the previous UPA government’s vote-on-account in February 2014, Jaitley presented a full budget in July that year. Narendra Modi-led government scrapped a colonial-era tradition of presenting the budget at the end of February.

With the preponement of budget, ministries are now allocated their budgeted funds from the start of the financial year beginning April.

This gives government departments more leeway to spend as well as allow companies time to adapt to business and taxation plans.

Previously, when the budget was presented at the end of February, the three-stage Parliament approval process used to get completed some time in mid-May, weeks ahead of the onset of monsoon rains.

This meant government departments would start spending on projects only from August-end or September after the monsoon season ended.

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