The Election Commission on Wednesday said the government will need a vote-on-account in the event that the budget presentation coincides with state assembly elections in 2017.
The EC’s notification came in light of the Centre announcing that the Union budget presentation was being advanced to February 1 from the last day of the month. EC officials said a full budget can only be presented if the model code of conduct is not in place.
Four states will go to polls early next year when their assembly tenures expire. While the assemblies of Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand expire in March, the Uttar Pradesh assembly’s tenure ends in May. Polling dates for these elections are yet to be announced, but the government will have to ensure that no budget announcement impacts the election outcome once the model code of conduct is implemented.
“If the Budget presentation does not coincide with election, then the government is free to make any announcement. There are no bindings. Otherwise, a government has to seek a vote-on-account,” an EC official explained.
Vote-on-account allows a government to seek parliamentary approval to meet expenses for a limited period of time, when Parliament is unable to vote the entire budget before the commencement of the new financial year.
Expenses such as staff salaries or money required for ongoing works can then be drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
For instance during the Lok Sabha election in 2009, the model code of conduct came into force from March 2, 2009; many states wrote to the EC to seek its opinion.
“Petitions were received from several states about the introduction of the budget for the year 2009-10. The EC instructed the states instead of presenting full budget, only a vote-on-account should be taken for three to four months,” the official said.
Vote-on-account is taken normally for two months, but during an election year, it can be extended for up to two or more months.