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Govt plans to redefine Budget format

Last updated on: September 29, 2010 10:06 IST

Govt plans to redefine Budget format

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

The government is looking to change the format of Budget documents with the intention of simplifying it, a senior finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

While the official, who did not wish to be identified, did not elaborate on the changes proposed, he indicated it would entail changes in presentation.

At present, the Budget documents, apart from the finance minister's speech, includes Budget at a Glance, the Finance Bill, its explanatory memorandum, detailed Demand for Grants, and booklets on expenditure and receipts.

In recent years, the government has also started presenting a Fiscal Policy Statement and a report on the implementation of the previous budget announcements.

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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The statement from the official comes at a time when the government is revamping the tax system, shifting to a Goods and Services Tax and a new Direct Taxes Code.

As a result, the Finance Bill will be a much simpler document, focused largely on customs duty-related changes.

In addition, the finance ministry has suggested redefining plan and non-plan expenditure.

Budget manual out

The indication from the official came while finance minister Pranab Mukherjee released the Budget Manual, giving details of all the processes involved in different stages of preparing, presenting and passing the Budget and thereon.

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Photographs: Reuters
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The 216-page document is divided into seven chapters -- introduction to the Budget, organisational structure of government accounts, the Budget process, duties and responsibilities in Budget finalisation, its implementation, and Budget reporting and evaluation of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Reviews.

"The Budget is shrouded in mystery. Even in the whole text of the Constitution, if you try to find the word budget, you will not get it.

"Article 112 of the Constitution, which deals with the Budget, uses the phrase Annual Financial Statement," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee noted while releasing the manual.

He said the process is not only secretive but many of the functions and activities related to it are not codified or placed in any single document.

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Photographs: Reuters
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The finance minister said the manual would serve as a comprehensive reference material to not only the officers involved in the process but other users and interested stakeholders as well.

He added the document was an effort in the direction of fostering greater transparency and better understanding about procedures and systems relating to making of the Union Budget.

The core sections of the manual explain the entire chain of activities related to Budget preparation, from the circular in September to Budget Day in February, including the processes of estimation of receipts and expenditure, their firming and finalisation through the pre-Budget meetings and their compilation.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Reuters
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The comprehensive calendar of Budget-related activities, their timelines, details of the related duties and responsibilities of the officers and staff, together with the security and 'lock-in' procedures have also been brought out.

The manual also deals with the implementation and reporting of various Budget announcements.

There are a series of Annexes which provide a holistic perspective on related subjects.

The government's accounting and classification systems have also been explained, apart from the working of the Consolidated Fund of India, the Contingency Fund of India and the Public Accounts of India.


Photographs: Reuters
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