Railway budget Scrapped, Merged with General Budget

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There will be no separate railway budget from the next financial year. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to merge the railway budget with the general budget from next year, putting an end to a practice that started in 1924.

Rail Budget and general budget will be amalgamated from now, there will only be one budget,” finance minister Arun Jaitley Said after the Cabinet meeting.

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“However, the functional autonomy of railways will be maintained,” Jaitley said. The decision to merge the railway budget with the general budget is significant as in recent years, particularly since coalition governments post-1996, political heavyweights have used the railway budget to hand out goodies and for their own image building.

No Rail budget from next session

With the railway portfolio often held by regional biggies, the budget reflected political priorities of the incumbent. The railway bureaucracy has also dug in its heels in the past.

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Railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s readiness to give up the limelight is a break from the past as BJP seems in a position to dump the railway budget as its solid majority in Lok Sabha enabled it to retain the portfolio rather than handing it to an ally.

The move to discard the British-era practice of a separate rail budget by the Modi government comes after a two-member committee comprising Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai recommended the exercise be scrapped.

Budget session advanced

With a view to get all the legislative approvals for the annual spending and tax proposals before the beginning of the new financial year on April 1, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved advancing date for presentation of the general budget by a month instead of present practice of unveiling it at the end of February.

To facilitate this, the budget session of Parliament will be called sometime before January 25, a month ahead of the current practice.

 

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