The Union Budget 2017-18 will be presented in the first week of February, while the budget session of Parliament will begin right after the Republic Day, top sources in finance ministry said.
The government will kick off pre-budget consultations with stakeholders within the next two weeks, they added.
“We are prepared for an early budget..the meetings will start in the middle of October,” a senior finance ministry official said. “There will be no short cuts in pre-budget consultations, we will follow the same pattern and hold meetings with all stakeholders.”
The budget will be a first for many reasons. Apart from the early presentation, it will be for the first time in 90 years that the government will not present a separate rail budget. It will be merged with the Union Budget.
The Cabinet had on September 21, gave its approval to both the changes.
Besides, the next Union Budget will also have no distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure, in a move set to streamline decision-making within the government. With the move to an “outcome-based budget”, the finance ministry is trying to shift from traditional performance-based budgeting by planning expenditure to fixing appropriate targets and quantifying deliverables of each schemes.
The government classifies expenditure into plan and non-plan categories. Non-plan expenditure is what the government spends on salaries, subsidies, loans and interest. Plan expenditure is the money spent on productive purposes, including on various flagship programmes of the government.
Till date, the budget session begun mid February, with the presentation on the last working day of the month.
Advancing the Union Budget by a month will make the government richer, with tax collections set to be healthier and procedures streamlined, analysts said.
Though the budget is presented in February, several tax proposals kick in only from June after Parliament passes the annual Finance Bill in May. Income tax changes come into force only after the Finance Bill is passed, but these are retroactively implemented from April 1. But the early presentation is likely to lessen revenue losses for the government, analysts added.
Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das had earlier said that the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) will provide provisional advance estimates of GDP by January 7 to ensure that the data can be incorporated while preparing the budget.