The Union Budget is a yearly report of India. It contains the Government’s revenue and expenditure for a particular fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to March 31. It is the most extensive account of the Government’s finances, comprises of revenues from all sources and expenditures on all activities undertaken are enumerated. It covers the revenue budget and the capital budget. It also contains estimates for the next fiscal year.
The Budget documents showcased to Parliament comprise, besides the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech, of the following:
- Annual Financial Statement (AFS)
- Demand for Grants (DG)
- Appropriation Bill
- Finance Bill
- Memorandum Explaining the Provisions in the Finance Bill, 2018
- Macroeconomic framework for the relevant financial year
- Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement for the financial year
- Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement
- Expenditure Profile
- Expenditure Budget
- Receipts Budget
An Interim Budget is not the similar as a ‘Vote on Account’. While a ‘Vote on Account’ deals only with the expenditure side of the government’s budget, an Interim Budget is a total set of accounts, including both expenditure and receipts. An Interim Budget gives the full financial statement, very similar to a full Budget. While the law does not debar the Union government from levying tax changes, normally in an election year, successive governments have prevented making any major changes in income tax laws during an Interim Budget.
As of September 2017, Morarji Desai has showcased 10 budgets which are the highest followed by P Chidambaram’s 9 and Pranab Mukherjee’s 8. Yashwant Sinha, Yashwantrao Chavan, and C.D. Deshmukh have presented 7 budgets each while Manmohan Singh and T.T. Krishnamachari have presented 6 budgets.
Time of Budget announcement
Until the year 1999, the Union Budget was announced at 5:00 pm on the last working day of the month of February. This work was inherited from the Colonial Era, Another reason was that until the 1990s, all that budgets seem to do was to increase taxes, a presentation in the evening gave producers and the tax collecting agencies the night to work out the change in prices. It was Mr.Yashwant Sinha, the then Finance Minister of India in the NDA government (led by Bharatiya Janata Party) of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who altered the ritual by announcing the 1999 Union Budget at am.
Date of Budget announcement
Also again in 2017, departing from the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Union Budget on the last working day of February, Minister of Finance (India) Arun Jaitley, in the NDA government (led by Bharatiya Janata Party) of Narendra Modi government announced that it will now be showcased on 1 February. In addition to Rail Budget, which is presented separately for 92 Years, joined with union budgets.
The printing of budget documents commenced approx a week ahead of presenting in the Parliament with a customary ‘Halwa ceremony’ in which halwa (a sweet dish) is prepared in large quantities and served to the officers and support staff involved. They remain isolated and stay in the North Block office until the Budget is presented. Halwa is also served by the Finance Minister. This ceremony is performed as a part of the Indian tradition of having something sweet before commencing an important work.