According to Article 112 of the Indian Constitution, the Union Budget of a year, also referred to as the annual financial statement, is a statement of the government for that particular year. What the PM Modi’s speech of December 31, 2016, made clear was that India was firmly moving away from the anti-poverty policies pursued by all previous governments.
The Supreme Court recently refused an urgent hearing on a plea seeking postponement of presentation of Union Budget due to assembly elections in five states. Chief Justice J. S. Khehar said, “There is no urgency in it. We will lay down the law when this petition comes up”. The PIL has also sought a direction to strip BJP of its lotus election symbol for alleged violation of the model code of conduct which came into effect declaration of assembly polls in five states.
As of now, the Union Budget for 2017-18 is due to be presented in the Lok Sabha on February 1, three days before the start of state assembly elections. The political Opposition is demanding that the budget be postponed because there are elections in five states in February and March. However, it is not an absurd political demand. Perhaps, the Opposition has broadly done the above calculation and believes that it is likely that a targeted basic income transfer scheme is in the offing. If such a policy is announced, it will be an economic and political masterstroke. Which is why the opposition will go to extreme lengths to prevail.
All said and done, the Union Budget 2017-18 is expected to be quite different from many of the previous ones and even though no sweeping changes are expected to occur. It’s all about expectations and the main one that will be top of the mind would be the government’s desire to create a positive feeling for the future so as to boost investor confidence both international and domestic.
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