The Union Cabinet on Wednesday morning has approved the merger of Railway Budget with the Union Budget, which marks the end of a 92-year-old practice of a separate budget that was used to roll out for railways in the country. However, the railway would continue to be working as separate entity and would function independently.

A joint panel was made that constituted of members from the Ministry of Railways as well as the Finance Ministry, they were in favour of the merger of two budgets. In addition to this, the categorisation of expenditure between Plan and Non-Plan is also said to be scrapped from the next budget, so that the entire process could be much more simpler. This unified meeting of Union Cabinet was administered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

They have also shown support to propelling the date of presenting Union Budget by a month but the assurance would be given after the government gets a clearance from the Parliament. The inception of budget preparation would start from early October and GDP estimates that were rolled out on February 7, 2017 would shift to January 7, but the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, responsible for the releasing of data told the Finance Ministry that they would be able to give only a limited amount of data that early.

The move of scrapping a separate budget for railways was initiated by the two-member board consisting of Kishore Desai and Bibek Debroy, from Niti Aayog.

This decision is proclaimed as an adjournment from the colonial past and beneficial for the people as it would boost the spending done on infrastructure of the country.

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21 September 2016
Jyotsna Amla

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