Last Updated : Mar 28, 2019 10:21 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Cautious finance ministry takes careful steps to avoid EC ire

The government had scheduled a press conference to announce the H1 borrowing calendar for FY 20, but cancelled it at the last moment because of the model code of conduct

The Election Commission’s (EC’s) model code of conduct has made the finance ministry cautious about making announcements even on seemingly routine decisions, including the borrowing calendar for the next six months.

Finance Ministry officials and representatives of the Reserve Bank of India on March 26 met to finalise the borrowing calendar for the April-September period of next fiscal.

The government had scheduled a press conference to announce the borrowing number but cancelled it at the last moment because of the model code of conduct.

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“We are still awaiting ECI's communication and will take a decision only after that,” a senior government official said on March 27.

The government in the Budget had proposed to borrow a gross amount of Rs 7.10 lakh crore from the market during 2019-20, higher than Rs 5.71 lakh crore in the current fiscal.

“The ECI has specified a particular guideline for the finance ministry which says that any announcement that can have a fiscal impact can't be announced during the model code of conduct,” another senior official said.

In the last Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that it was the council’s last before the Lok Sabha elections. In case of any urgency, permission will have to be sought from the EC.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Centre had announced in its Interim Budget Rs 75,000-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme, under which Rs 6,000 per year would be given in three instalments to around 12 crore farmers who hold cultivable land up to 2 hectares.

About 4.74 crore small and marginal farmers registered under the PM-Kisan scheme before the Model Code of Conduct for general election came into effect on March 10. They are expected to get the second installment of Rs 2,000 each in their bank accounts during the Lok Sabha elections in April-May.

Of these 4.74 crore beneficiaries, 2.74 crore farmers have till now received the first installment and the rest are expected to be covered by the end of the month.

The ECI has allowed the agriculture ministry to transfer the first and second tranche of the payment to all those beneficiaries.
First Published on Mar 28, 2019 10:21 am
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