The Cabinet on September 21 had in-principle decided to end the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Union Budget on last day of February and advance it by about a month to help complete the legislative approval for the annual spending plans and tax proposals before beginning of the new financial year on April 1.
"The abolition of a separate railway budget is not what it is purported to be. It is a measure towards commercialisation and privatisation of the Indian Railways," CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.
The Cabinet decision to bring forward the presentation of the union Budget and merge the Railway budget with it, along with a likely roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax from April 1 next year, could well make 2017 a breakout year for policy-making.
With plans to remove classification according to plan and non-plan expenditures, Shaktikanta Das says the government has already started conducting dry runs of a budget without plan and non-plan expenditures.
Once the circular is issued Budget exercise will kick off, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa told CNBC-TV18. Under the contours of the merged Budget, gross budgetary support to Railways Ministry will continue, so will the commercial arrangements of Railways Ministry, he said.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18 Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said the railways cant be treated like any other department. "My own feeling is that the Finance Minister will have to grant a lot of autonomy to the Ministry of Railways, he said.
The Finance Ministry on Wednesday accepted the NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy-initiated and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu-backed proposal to merge the Rail and General Budgets. Heres a quick take on the benefits and drawbacks of the merger.
The 92-year-old habit of presenting a separate Railway Budget has finally come to an end. Railway Budget has been merged with Union Budget. The government has also advanced the date for Budget presentation and having just one head of expenditure by merging both plan and non-plan expenditures.
The proposal for advancing of the Budget and the merger of the railway Budget with it will be considered tomorrow at a meeting of the union Cabinet to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been pushing for it.
As the government looks toadvance the Union Budget presentation by a month toJanuary-end, rating agency ICRA today flagged concerns aboutavailability of lesser data, saying advance GDP estimates aswell as corporate tax filings are available only in February.
The Cabinet is likely to suggest a window for the Budget session and subsequently Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) would take final decision on the exact date for the session, sources said.