New Delhi: The finance ministry clarified on Wednesday that the Budget on February 1 will be an “interim” one.
Under the usual 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.
There was speculation earlier in political circles that, contray to tradition, the Narendra Modi government may present a full-fledged Budget on Friday. It is widely expected to have certain sops for farmers and the middle class ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in April-May.
“This Budget will be called Interim Budget 2019-20”, a finance ministry official said.
The last Budget of this government is likely to be presented in the Lok Sabha by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal.
While P. Chidambaram had presented the previous UPA government’s vote on account in February 2014, Arun Jaitley presented a full Budget in July 2014. The Modi government had scrapped the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Budget on the last day of February.
The main Opposition party, the Congress, had said it would strongly oppose inside and outside Parliament the presentation of a “full Budget” by the NDA government as it has “no electoral legitimacy” and the step would go against set precedents and parliamentary traditions.
Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha had said that it would be “entirely improper and unconstitutional” if the government presents a full Budget ahead of the elections.
Mr Sinha had said there was no precedent of an outgoing government doing so. “It would be entirely improper and unconstitutional on the part of this government to present a full Budget,” he said, adding that it should neither table the Economic Survey, which is generally presented a day before the Budget, and not present the Finance Bill.
Last week, railway minister Piyush Goyal was given the additional charge of the finance ministry as Arun Jaitley is now in the United States for treatment. Mr Jaitley, as finance minister, has presented five Budgets.