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Progress of the Budget in Parliament
April, 29th 2010

Media discusses the progress of the Budget in Parliament and the concept of cut motion.

How is the budget debated in Parliament?

Budget discussion in the Lok Sabha is a two-stage process. In the first stage there is a general discussion on the budget as a whole, lasting 4-5 days. Only the broad contours of the budget and the principles and policies underlying it are discussed at this stage. After the general discussion on both the railway and general budgets, the House is adjourned for a period. In this interval, demands for grants of various ministries and departments including railways are considered by the concerned standing committees (Rule 331G). These committees are required to submit their reports to the House within a specified period without asking for more time. The reports of the standing committees are of persuasive nature, they cannot suggest anything in the nature of cut motions.

How are demands for grants dealt with by the Lok Sabha?

After the reports of the standing committees are available with the House, it begins discussion and voting on demands for grants of each ministry. The speaker, in consultation with the leader of the House, fixes for the time for discussion and voting on demands for grants. On the last day, the speaker puts all the outstanding demands to vote. This process is known as guillotine. The Lok Sabha has the power to assent to or refuse to give assent to any demand or even to reduce the amount of grant sought by the government.

What are cut motions?

These are moved to discuss specific matters by the minister concerned or to ventilate grievances or to suggest economies. Each motion has to focus on one matter and one demand, which needs to be precisely stated. It must not relate to expenditure charged to the consolidated fund of India and not suggest any change of law. There are three types of cuts.

What are the different types of cut motions?

Policy cuts: There is a notional cut of Re 1 to express total disapproval of the policy. Token cut: Grant is sought to be reduced by Rs 100 and the purpose is to ventilate a grievance relating to the demand.

Economy cuts: There are cuts suggested by members to bring about economy in expenditure, or to reduce the demand by such amounts that may be considered necessary.

What are the implications of a cut motion getting passed?

The cut motions are put to vote after discussion. Depending on the result of the vote the demands are either reduced or allowed to go through. Cut motions invariably put the government on the defensive, but if the replies are convincing and the ruling party has a good majority then it would not mean much. If the cut motion goes through, the government will have to resign.

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