Business

FM Arun Jaitley Hints Interim Budget Could Be Bigger Than A Vote On Account

PRERNA YADAV | 2
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| January 18 , 2019 , 12:34 IST

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on January 17 said the government could break with convention and make the February 1 exercise more significant than a vote on account.

Referring to talk about a relief package for farmers, Jaitley said that the farm sector has been facing challenges, and the markets will tend to understand if an approach is rational and not populist.

In the last 12 Interim Budgets since Independence, outgoing governments have stopped themselves from announcing big schemes in order to make it easier for the incoming government to pass the full Budget. Jaitley's speech clearly hinted that in case of unusual situations, the government might deviate from the conventional practice.

His address, at an award function organized by a TV channel, through a video link came against the backdrop of speculations if he will be able to present the budget since he had gone to New York for treatment. but during in the interaction, he dropped no hints that he would be unable to perform the crucial task.

According to media reports he said, "The convention has always been that the election year budget normally is an interim budget and ordinarily there should be no reason why we should move away from that convention. But then the larger interest of the economy always dictates what goes into the interim budget and that is something which cannot be discussed or disclosed at this stage.”

The FM also said, "The efforts are to move on the glide path unless an unusual situation arises." He even hinted that there may be some big announcement which can't wait. He made it clear in his address that the government will stick to fiscal pridence. Jaitley said, "I have always believed that fiscal discipline is always rewarded. In the past when governments have not stuck to it, we have seen the consequences."

The finance minister, however, did not give any other details regarding the relief package. "Without getting into the specifics, because that would be disclosing the mind in which we are working, (I can say that) you cannot opt to wait on some of the challenges. Therefore, obviously, there will be a necessity to address them. It has happened in the past. So we intend to work within the parameters of the conventions as they exist," Jaitley said.

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However, he did admit that he was concerned about the growth rate. As per the report, Jaitley said the 7-7.5 percent growth rate will not suffice and the eight percent barrier would have to be crossed.