Timeline of events involved in Union Budget preparation

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI Photo)

The Union Budget for FY 2019-20, prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs, will be presented by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on 5 July 2019. The Budget shall illustrate the revenues to be generated along with the expenditures and receipts during the fiscal year.

It will also lay the foundation for the nation’s financial approach in the upcoming years. The development of the Union Budget involves several phases – Preparation, Presentation, and Implementation. Here is the timeline of events involved in the budget preparation.

The Initial Process

The preparation of the Budget begins at least five to six months prior to its presentation. The process generally starts in August or September. All the concerned administrative ministries are issued a Budget Circular by the Ministry of Finance with detailed instructions and guidelines about the skeleton forms. This circular is usually rolled out during the last week of August or the second week of September.

The Budget circular is then circulated to its departments requesting ground-level officers for details of the expenditures and receipts during the last fiscal year and the estimates required by the department during the ensuing financial year.

Accumulation of Estimates and Actuals

Once the field officers have submitted the estimates and financial requirements, the officials in the top-tier department study and inspect the data provided. The revised estimates are then submitted to their concerned ministries for further scrutinisation after which the expenditures and receipts for the fiscal year are sent to the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance then inspects the estimates concerning the prevailing economic conditions to ascertain its feasibility.

Formulating the Budget

The allocation of revenues and resources to the ministries is made only after the Ministry of Finance has considered all the aspects of the financial requirements. The ministry can also choose to introduce new public welfare programmes to make the Budget more feasible.

The Finance Ministry has the right to consult the Prime Minister or the Union Cabinet in case of disputes between administrative ministries over the revenue allocation occur. In such cases, the decision made by the authority is considered ultimate.

Following the allocation of resources, the Ministry of Finance is required to come up with an estimate of the revenues that have to be generated during the year with the help of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).

The last process in this phase involves the consolidation of both the reports, i.e. the allocation of revenues and the estimates to be generated during the ensuing financial year.

Printing the Budget

The Halwa Ceremony is a tradition observed before the beginning of the printing process of the Union Budget. The ceremony takes place in the presence of the Finance Minister, along with all the officers and clerks involved in the process of Budget preparation. The printing process begins once the ceremony is completed. To maintain the confidentiality of the Budget, all the officials and clerks involved in preparing and printing the Budget are required to remain in quarantine without any contact with the outside world.

Presentation of the Budget

As per the Indian Constitution, the Union Budget will be presented by the Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha. The President will decide the date of the presentation. The Union Budget will be presented on 5 July 2019 by Nirmala Sitharaman for the FY 2019-20. Once the Finance Minister has finished the Budget presentation speech in the Lok Sabha, the Budget documents will be presented before the Rajya Sabha table.

The Budget is prepared and presented twice during an election year. An Interim Budget is presented first, illustrating the financial estimates of expenditures and receipts for the next few months. Once the election has been concluded, the Union Budget is presented by the newly elected government for the ensuing fiscal year.

The article was first published by ClearTax

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