As Goyal all set to present interim Budget on Feb 1; Opposition demands vote-on-account

As Piyush Goyal is all set present the Budget on Feb 1, the Oppn parties responded stating that govt should not bring the full fledged budget in the name of interim budget, as its tenure is till May

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

NH Web Desk

As the Finance Minister Piyush Goyal is all set present the Budget on February 1, the Opposition parties responded stating that the government should not bring the full fledged budget in the name of interim budget, as its tenure is till May.

Representing the Congress in the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Congress leader in the House, Kharge said the government should restrict itself to vote-on-account.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, the Congress leader said he has demanded that there should be discussion on the Rafale deal and farmers issues during the budget session, which is starting on Thursday.

"I said in the meeting that the government should not bring full-fledged budget in the name of interim budget. It cannot do this as the tenure of this government is till May. The BJP-led government should bring only vote-on-account," he said.

On Rafale, Kharge alleged that there is a scam in the fighter jet deal and said the prime minister should face the opposition in the house on this issue.

"For sure, there is a scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal and why the prime minister is running away from the debate, he should sit in Parliament and answer the questions on this deal," Kharge said, adding that new revelations have emerged about the defence deal in english dailies.

He further said the Congress will also question the government for withholding the employment data of NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation).

TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said unemployment and farmers' distress must be given priority.

Bandyopadhyay also alleged that BJP government is using CBI against Bengal and said the federal structure of the country is being ruined.Official sources said the Budget documents will contain revenue and expenditure projections for the entire 2019-20 fiscal year beginning April 1, but a 'Vote on Account' will seek Parliament nod for the expenditure side.

Another issues that may be of importance is the government’s plea regarding the land around Ayodhya in the Supreme Court. The plea wants the land be given back to its owners. The government has drawn flak for this plea and most people believe that they want to use it to win the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Budget will seek the Parliament's nod for spending for four months till a new government is sworn-in.

While it is widely expected that the interim budget may contain tax sops and a certain package for the farm sector, there will be no Economic Survey detailing the state of the economy.

The new government, elected after general elections due by May, is expected to present a full budget in July along with the Economic Survey.

With the ruling BJP looking to regain grounds lost in the recent assembly elections, it was speculated that the budget presentation on February 1 will be just like a full-fledged one with sops and announcements to woo voters.

The Lok Sabha website, however, in its Provisional Calendar referred to the event as an Interim Budget.

The Finance Ministry also denied having instructed its staff to refer to the upcoming Budget on February 1 as a 'General Budget'.

Confusion was created after the commerce ministry on Wednesday in a whatsapp message to media said: "do not refer Budget 2019-20 as interim Budget, it is officially referred as general Budget 2019-20".

However, the Finance Ministry later clarified that the Budget will be called interim Budget 2019-20.

There were confusion in political circle that the government may deviate from the practice of presenting interim Budget and come up with full Budget ahead of the general elections.

Adding to the speculations was the statement by Arun Jaitley from New York, days before he temporarily gave up the charge of Finance Minister to Goyal to undergo treatment.

In his address to an award function by CNBC TV18 through a video link, he had stated that: "Convention has always been that election year Budget is an interim Budget. The larger interest of the nation dictates what will be a part of the interim budget".

He suggested that issues confronting the farm sector will constitute one such challenge.

As per practice, a Vote-on-Account or approval for essential government spending for a limited period is taken in an election year and a full-fledged budget presented by the new government.

Last year, Narendra Modi-led government scrapped a colonial-era tradition of presenting the Budget at the end of February and it is now presented on February 1, so as to allow Parliamentary approvals to be completed before the start of the next financial year.

Setting have been scheduled between January 31 till February 13 to push some of the Bills that were not passed in the Rajya Sabha such as the Citizenship (Amendment), Triple Talaq, Representation of the People Act (Amendment) 2017 for NRIs to vote through proxies, and for the National Medical Council.

(with inputs from PTI and The Indian Express)

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