The Union Budget for 2012-13 will be presented to Parliament only after the assembly polls are over, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.
TOI had reported on December 25 and 29 that the Budget will be presented after the assembly polls are out of the way to ensure that the government's keenly awaited annual financial statement does not clash with the Election Commission's model code of conduct, which will be in force until elections in Goa are over on March 3.
"We have not yet decided the time but naturally it (the Budget) will have to be after the elections," Mukherjee told reporters when asked about the Budget dates. Officials had earlier said that Mukherjee had made it clear that it would be difficult to present the Budget in the middle of crucial state polls.
Government sources have said the Budget is likely be presented anywhere between March 9 and 15, but some officials say it could be also be after March 15. Traditionally, the Budget is presented on the last day of February, and 2012 being a leap year it was scheduled to be unveiled on February 29. The Union Cabinet is likely to decide the date soon.
This will be second time that the Budget will not be presented on the last day of February. In the 70s, the government had unveiled the budget in March, moving away from the traditional date. Fresh dates for the presentation of the Economic Survey and the Railway Budget will also be decided soon. Sources had told TOI earlier that the Budget session of Parliament could begin around March 9.
Whenever general elections are due the key February date is missed and the government announces a vote-on-account which enables it to spend until a full budget is presented in Parliament. A full Budget is presented only after a new Lok Sabha is constituted.
Finance ministry officials say that postponing the Budget by a few days will not be against constitutionally-established norms. Every year, the government presents a vote-on-account to help it spend during the first quarter of the financial year until Parliament's standing committees have examined the Budget proposals.
The finance minister presents the Union Budget, which includes the Finance Bill for tax-related amendments, and the Appropriations Bill, for spending, which need Parliament's nod.
In December, the EC announced dates for polls in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the elections would be held between January 28 and March 3. Although elections in politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh will be over on February 28 - a day before the Budget is due to be presented - polling in Goa is slated for March 3.