Centre to present Budget on Feb 1

Centre to present Budget on Feb 1

The government has decided to go ahead with its plan of presenting the Union Budget for 2017-18 on February 1, despite opposition from several quarters.

However, there will be no announcements specific to five states – Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur – where elections will be held from February 4.

“The Budget presentation on February 1 is a done deal. We will not make any specific announcement for poll-bound states,” a top official said.

The Centre has advanced the presentation of the Budget to February 1 from the usual practice of presenting it on the last working day of February.

The Opposition had recently made a representation to the Election Commission urging it to ask the Centre to postpone the Budget till polls were over. The Opposition charged that the Budget may be used to woo voters in poll-bound states.

The government has maintained that the Union Budget is an annual constitutional exercise covering the entire country and not just a few states.

In a reply to the commission, the government is understood to have said that advancing the Budget presentation was necessary as it would ensure allocations from April 1, the beginning of the new fiscal.

A plea is also pending in the apex court seeking postponement of Budget presentation to March in view of the elections. The court is likely to hear the petition on Friday. The Budget session will commence on January 31.

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