The Budget’s journey through Parliament

Beginning with the presentation of the Budget and ending with discussions and voting, the process is long. As Parliament completed the budgetary process for 2013-14 last week, HT explains the constitutional and parliamentary intricacies of the exercise.

Document details
The Budget documents presented to Parliament comprise a lot of other things besides the finance minister’s speech. These include:
 Annual Financial Statement
 Demands for Grants
 Appropriation Bill
 Finance Bill
 Memorandum explaining the provisions in the Finance Bill
 Macro-economic framework for the relevant financial year
 Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement for the financial year
 Medium-Term Fiscal Policy Statement
 Expenditure Budget Volume-1
 Expenditure Budget Volume-2
 Receipts Budget
 Budget at a glance
 Highlights of Budget

Annual Financial Statement
This document shows the government’s estimates to about what it expects to earn and spend during the year compared to the previous year
These are shown under the three parts in which government accounts are maintained:
 Consolidated fund
 Contingency fund
 Public account

Consolidated Fund
Article 266
Of the Constitution, which mandates that Parliamentary approval required to draw money from the consolidated fund of India
 All earnings received by the government, its borrowings and also its receipts from recoveries of loans that it grants form the consolidated fund.
Contingency Fund
Article 267
Of the Constitution which mandates that Parliamentary approval required to draw money from the Contingency Fund
Rs 500 crore
The present corpus of the Contingency Fund of India
 Contingency fund is an imprest or emergency pool of resources meant to meet urgent unforeseen expenditure

Public Account
Funds the government holds in trusts such as provident funds, small savings collections, income of government set aside for expenditure on specific schemes such as road development, primary education are all  kept in the public account.
Public account funds do not belong to the government and have to be finally paid back to the persons and authorities who deposited them.
Parliamentary authorisation for such payments is, therefore, not required.

Demand for Grants
Article 113

Of the Constitution that mandates that expenditure from the Consolidated Fund be voted by the Lok Sabha are submitted in the form of demands for grants
Each department places demands for grants that are placed in the Lok Sabha along with the annual financial statement

Appropriation Bill
Article 114 (3)
Of the Constitution that stipulates that no amount can be withdrawn from the consolidated fund without the enactment of a law. They seek to authorise appropriation from the consolidated fund.

Finance Bill
Article 110
Of the Constitution under which the Parliament has to pass a law to approve changes in direct taxes
Every year the government imposes new taxes, abolishes some old ones, changes regulation and alters some existing income taxes. These are carried out by passing the finance bill.

Parliament has to pass the finance bill within 75 days of its introduction.
What happens if it isn’t?
It is viewed as a vote of no confidence against the government.

Indian Parliament completed the budgetary process for 2013-14 last week.

In case the deadline is approaching…
According to precedent
The speaker can call for an all-party meeting
Parliamentay affairs minister can personally reach out to the opposition
The speaker can put the bill to a voice vote without debate.

(Text: HT Business Bureau)


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