Supreme Court dismissed concerns on advancing the budget date by the government. A PIL filled in the Supreme Court had sought postponement of the budget date till the elections in the five states are over.
It is alleged that the provisions in the budget can influence the voters and can be considered as violation of the model code of conduct.
Earlier the government had decided to end the colonial era tradition of presenting the union budget on the last day of February.
Along with this the provision of a separate railway budget is scrapped and it has now been merged with the general budget.
Objective behind such a decision by the government:
- The objective is to get the budget approved by the parliament which would ensure funds are dispersed before the beginning of the financial year on April 1.
- This would eliminate the need to obtain a vote on account approval to incur expenditure for the first two months.
- It will ensure better planning and expenditure of resources as all spending authorities will be in a better position to plan and execute with assured resources available in advance at the beginning of the year.
- Advancement of the budget session will ensure that parliamentary approval for the final batch of supplementary demands and re-appropriation relating to the current financial year, would be feasible a few weeks before the end of the financial year. This will enable additional releases from the Centre to the States in February or early March.
Various hurdles on the way:
- Data for the current year is important for the formulation of budget. In the case of 28 February, we have quality data of nine to ten months. By advancing the budget we will have comparatively less data.
- The government may not be in possession of enough data about the state of the economy by January, be it tax collections or GDP numbers. Also, difficulties in preparation of the Economic Survey with less data at disposal of the government.
Only time will tell how this effort improves the country’s fiscal management. Meanwhile, Supreme Court’s views suggest that election and regular budgetary exercise are mutually independent of each other.