Modi Govt continues knack of doing things differently: Will present Full Budget instead of Vote-on-Account

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Modi government is likely to present a full budget on February 1, thus breaking the tradition of a vote-on-account.

The move also portrays the government’s confidence in getting re-elected in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Earlier, the government had advanced the presentation of the Union budget to February 1 so as to let government departments undertake spending from the beginning of the fiscal. Reports say that it is effecting a similar departure on the grounds that an economy of the size of India cannot afford to lose direction in the intervening period till a new government takes charge.

After sending an initial letter on October 18, the finance ministry sent reminders to central government departments and ministries on Tuesday to submit inputs by November 30 for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech.

“We will signal continuity. We cannot dislocate the economy just because of the elections. Wherever there is gap in expenditure, we will plug it,” a government official said.
The person said the government would be sticking to routine and publishing an Economic Survey, essentially the economic report card for 2018-19, though normally this task is left to the next government. The government has appointed a panel under former RBI governor Bimal Jalan to select the next chief economic adviser in the finance ministry and so far it has held two meetings to vet 20 applications.

The government also advertised on 23 October for the post of senior economic adviser in the finance ministry for a period of three years, signalling its intention to strengthen the economic research wing in the North Block.

The finance ministry is putting North Block in quarantine starting December 3, restricting the access of journalists to ministry officials as budget preparation gains momentum.

“Letters have already been sent to departments to submit revised estimates for 2018-19 and budget estimates for 2019-20,” another government official said requesting anonymity. “We may also hold consultations with industries and various stakeholders to understand their expectation from the budget.”

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