NEW DELHI: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the first budget of the second term of Narendra Modi government in the Parliament on July 5. Before the Lok Sabha elections, the then acting finance minister Piyush Goyal had presented an interim budget on February 1.
What is the Union Budget?
The Union Budget is the most comprehensive report of the government's finances in which revenues from all sources and outlays for all activities are consolidated by the finance ministry.
The budget also contains estimates of the government's accounts for the next fiscal year called Budgeted Estimates.
Made in close consultation with the Prime Minister's Office, the budget is not just a statement of accounts but a charter of the government’s economic policies.
How is the Budget made?
The finance ministry collects information about receipts and expenditure from various departments to prepare the revised estimates for the budget. The government also holds pre-budget consultations with stakeholders such as state representatives, bankers, agriculturists, economists and trade unions to understand their demands, which includes tax incentives and fiscal support.
From 2017-18, the Modi government has merged the Railway Budget with the Union Budget.
Sitharaman's budget team comprises Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur and Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian.
Revenue and Expenditure:
The General Budget has two major parts: Revenue and Expenditure.
Assessing the revenues from different central taxes is the primary function of the Department of Revenue and the expenditure estimates for the current and the next year for various expenditure heads are assessed by the Department of Expenditure.
The Department of Expenditure also assesses the resources of the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). The Budget Division is a part of the Department of Economic Affairs.
Finance Secretary coordinates overall budget making process. All of them keep the Finance Minister informed and seek directions from time to time. The Chief Economic Advisor assists the concerned departmental officer in this process.
Budget printing process:
The printing process of the general budget 2019-20 began on June 22 with a Halwa ceremony in a printing press located in North Block's basement. Since the ceremony, a large number of officials and support staff of the finance ministry, who are directly associated with the budget making and printing process, have to remain out of touch from the outside world. This is done to ensure complete secrecy and prevent leakages before the budget presentation.
The staff is not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail.
Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to go home.
The Cabinet is shown a gist of the budget 10 minutes before Parliament meets on the budget day.