EC asks for procedure followed to delay Budget in 2012

RSTV Bureau

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Deliberating over the Opposition’s representation against holding General Budget before assembly polls, the Election Commission has sought details from the Cabinet Secretariat on the procedure followed by the then government to delay the presentation of the Union Budget in 2012.

Seeking response by Friday, the central poll panel has also sought details on the process involved in preparing and presenting the Union Budget.

The opposition parties had approached the President and the ECI objecting to the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1 ahead of the Assembly elections in five states and demanded that the government be asked to defer the annual exercise.

They cited an earlier precedence of postponing the budget in 2012 by then Congress-led UPA government after the opposition (BJP and allies) had objected to presentation of budget prior to polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

The UPA government had accepted their stand and postponed presentation of the Union Budget from February 28, 2012 to March 16, 2012.

In its reply, submitted on January 10, the government had defending its decision to advance the budget session for the purpose.

The government is learnt to have described the Union Budget as an annual constitutional exercise covering the entire country and not just a few states, an apparent rebuttal of the opposition charge that the budget will be used to woo voters in the poll-bound states.

It had also said that the advancing of budget presentation was necessary as it would ensure that all budgetary provisions are allocated to different sectors from April 1, the beginning of the new fiscal. The budget is usually presented around last week of February and, as a result, the approval of the budget spills over to the next financial year, delaying the start of new programmes.

This year, the Budget session of Parliament has already been convened from January 31 when the President will address the joint sitting of the two Houses. The Union Budget and the Economic Survey are slated to be presented the next day.

Punjab and Goa will go for polls on February 4 and the last phase of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur will be held on March 8.

(With inputs from the PTI)