Improper if govt goes beyond Vote-on-Account: PC

Chidambaram cautioned that convention did not allow giving benefits that are part of a full Budget. (PTI File Photo)

Reacting to hints from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that he would break with convention and go beyond presenting a Vote-on-Account on February 1, his predecessor P Chidambaram said on Sunday that it would be "improper” if the government chooses to go with anything other than an interim Budget.

“In the last year of a government, the convention has been to present a Vote-on-Account for about three or four months and it will be completely improper if the government were to present a full annual financial statement,” Chidambaram told journalists.

Chidambaram cautioned that convention did not allow giving benefits that are part of a full Budget.

“The Constitution talks only about annual financial statement. I think the Constitution has to be understood in the light of established practice…,” he said.

Jaitley has emphasised that the larger interest of the nation will dictate what will be the part of his interim Budget.

"Convention has always been that the election year Budget is an interim one. The larger interest of the nation will dictate what will be the part of that Budget,” Jaitley had told a TV channel from New York where he is undergoing medical check-ups.

To a question on Aadhar data privacy, Chidambaram said, “the Supreme Court has accepted that Aadhar can be used only for subsidies and benefits. Today the government has collected a lot of data by virtually making Aadhar mandatory for a number of purposes. That data is lying in one silo – UIDAI. In my view, that is not different from data colonisation. The question about data has to be addressed by the next government”.

Speaking from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf Gujarat, India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani too had urged Modi to address the issue of data colonisation. He, however, emphasised data being stored away from Indian soil by foreign businesses and stakeholders.

On another question on proposed angel tax on startups, Chidambaram said, “Angel tax is completely unacceptable”.

Angel tax refers to the income tax payable on capital raised by unlisted companies via issue of shares where the share price is seen in excess of the fair market value of the shares sold.

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