No new rail budget from now; to be merged with General Budget
The Union cabinet has decided to do away with the Rail Budget- an annual process that had been followed for 92 years. Now the rail budget will be merged with the General Budget which will be presented a month early than its scheduled date usually in February.
The Cabinet also decided to remove the distinction between Plan and the Non-Plan Expenditure by merging the two in the Budget accounts. All these changes will be put into effect simultaneously from the Budget for 2017-18.
Scrapping the Railway Budget marks the end of a 92-year-old tradition that began in 1924. An official statement said: “It (Railway Budget) has continued after Independence as a convention rather than under Constitutional provisions.”
While the Cabinet has decided in principle on advancing the Union Budget date, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the actual date for the Budget presentation would be decided by the government after taking into account the calendar of Assembly elections in 2017.
Jaitley said a separate Railway Budget was started as the capital expenditure on the Railways was very high. Gradually, the ratio as compared to the General Budget has been going down and currently some departments, including defence and road transport and highways, have a very high outlay and expenditure. After the merger, appropriations for the Railways will form part of the main Appropriation Bill.
The government is in favour of advancing the budgetary exercise so that it can be completed before March 31 and the taxation measures and expenditure on public-funded schemes could begin from April 1.