Millennium Post

Budget overhaul: Cabinet may advance House session by a month

While early convening of the Budget Session may become a norm in the years to come, the Winter Session of Parliament is likely to be convened on November 12 this year to get the supporting legislations for the GST rollout approved early. The Finance Ministry is overhauling the Budget making exercise which may see scrapping of the current practice of presenting a separate budget for the Railways as well as shifting to multi-year outcome based budgeting, sources said.

Till now the Budget Session was convened in the third or fourth week of February, and the Union Budget presented on last date of the month. This led to the legislative approvals taking place in two phases spread between February and May. In order to get all tax proposals as well as expenditure on schemes kicking in from beginning of new fiscal on April 1, the budget session of Parliament is likely to be convened on January 24, sources said.

The Economic Survey, that presents the state of economy, is likely to be presented on January 30 and the Union Budget on January 31. Appropriation as well as finance bill would thus get approved in the following two months, sources said. Keen to meet the April 1 target to roll out the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST), the government may advance Winter Session of Parliament by a fortnight to November 12 to get supporting legislations passed, leaving sufficient time for implementation of the new indirect tax regime. 

Winter Session of Parliament is normally convened in the third or fourth week of November but this year the government is looking at starting the month-long session immediately after the end of festive season. An early Winter Session would help get the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) legislations, that will pave way for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to be approved within November or latest by early December, sources said.

The two are supporting legislations to the Constitutional Amendment Bill approved by Parliament last month, would list out the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters and special provisions for certain States. Sources said as part of the budget overhaul, distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure is planned to be done away with. 

There will also be a move away from the traditional budgeting based on inputs (how much can be spent) to budgeting measurable by outcomes (what can be achieved with the spending). 

PM Modi directs all steps for GST roll-out to be finished by March 31
Targeting to roll out the ambitious GST on April 1 next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed that all steps required in this direction should be completed before that date. He has also said that GST Council would need to have intensive meetings to be able to make timely recommendations relating to its mandate, including proposals relating to Model GST laws, GST rates, goods and services that may be subjected to or exempted from GST. 

The directive and the observation came at a meeting Modi chaired here yesterday to review the preparedness for rollout for GST and to ensure that there is no slippage on the date of its implementation from April 1, 2017. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior officials of the Prime Ministers Office and Finance Ministry.
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