No separate rail budget from next fiscal; Union Budget early

New Delhi, Sept 21 (PTI) Ending 92-year-old tradition,the Cabinet today decided to merge rail budget with thegeneral budget and agreed in-principle to advance the date ofits presentation in Parliament from the usual February end. The actual date for presentation of the general budgetfor 2017-18 will be decided by the government after takinginto account the ensuing assembly elections, Finance MinisterArun Jaitley said while briefing the media about the Cabinetdecisions. The Cabinet has also decided to do away with the Plan/Non-Plan expenditure classification in Budget 2017-18 andreplace with ‘capital and receipt’. The government, Jaitley said, was in favour of advancingthe budgetary exercise to that it could be completed beforeMarch 31 and expenditure on public-funded schemes could beginfrom April 1. He said: "While we in-principle are in favour ofadvancing the budget date and finishing the entire financialbusiness before March 31…the actual dates will be decidedafter consultations depending on calendar of the stateelections." The government, he added, is keeping itself in a "stateof readiness" to advance the Budget presentation. As per tradition, the Budget is presented on the lastworking day of February. A separate railway budget was startedby the British in 1924. Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said theCentral Statistical Organisation (CSO) will provideprovisional Advance Estimates of national income or GDP byJanuary 7 so that the data can be incorporated in preparationof Budget. The provisional advance estimates, he hoped, would be inline with the one normally released by February 7. Das said the government will issue Budget circular in aday or two. Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu said the merger of rail andgeneral budgets will not impact the functional autonomy of therailways but help in enhancing capital expenditure. "One single budget will mean railway and general budgetwill work in harmony," Prabhu said, adding Railways will nothave to pay dividend to the Government. MORE PTI KKS JD CSSA


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