Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, everyone is bracing up for Budget 2019. It is likely that Interim finance minister Piyush Goyal will be presenting the budget as Arun Jaitley is in the US on medical leave. The BJP-led Central government, which will be presenting the budget ahead of general elections, is likely to woo rural and urban middle-class voters with farm relief measures and tax cuts.
Given the fact that the Union Budget will be presented a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, debate escalates over the nature of the Budget – whether it will be an interim budget or regular Budget. One of the key components the country’s politics ahead of the Lok Sabha 2019 will surely revolve around the promises made by the Central government in the Budget.
So the question still stands, what is Interim Budget?
The government presents an interim budget if it does not have the time to present a full Budget or because national elections may be near. In the latter situation, propriety demands that the task of framing the full Budget be left to the incoming government.
How many Interim Budgets has been presented in India?
13 Interim Budgets have been presented, as it was either immediately before or after General Elections. Since Independence, there have been eight Interim Budgets before General Elections and five after.
Here’s a look at past Interim Budgets:
1. The first Interim Budget was presented by R K Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947 for seven-and-a-half months from August 15, 1947 to March 31, 1948. Chetty presented an Interim Budget for 1947-48 as the Budget passed by the Constituent Assembly in March ceased to be operative with the division of the country into India and Pakistan.
2. The second Interim Budget ahead of elections was presented for 1952-53 by C.D. Deshmukh on the eve of the first General Elections.
3. T T Krishnamachari (TTK) presented interim Budget for 1957-58, just before the general elections. The highlight of his interim Budget speech was his reference to a growing foreign exchange shortage and the need to mobilise adequate resources to fund the second Five-year Plan that was then being finalised.
4. Morarji Desai presented two interim Budgets, one for 1962-63 and the other for 1967-68. The first one was presented in his capacity as finance minister under Nehru’s prime ministership, while the latter was as finance minister and deputy prime minister in Indira Gandhi’s government. Both interim Budgets were significant for different reasons.
5. The interim Budget presented by Y B Chavan for 1971-72 had no special features. It reviewed the economy, but gave sufficient indication of the need for new taxation in the regular Budget that he would present a few weeks later.
6. India’s shortest ever interim budget speech was delivered by Haribhai M. Patel in 1977. This was the first interim Budget to be presented by a former bureaucrat and also a finance secretary.
7. R Venkataraman presented interim Budget for 1980-81. He converted his interim Budget speech into a political statement aimed at attacking the Janata government’s economic policies.
8. Yashwant Sinha’s debut as finance minister was with an interim Budget in 1991, caused by the fall of the Chandra Shekhar government requiring a general election in May 1990.
9. Dr. Manmohan Singh presented the interim budget for 1991-92 as elections were forced. That left Manmohan Singh with his only interim Budget.
10. Yashwant Sinha also presented the interim budget for 1998-99 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.
11. Jaswant Singh, in the final year of the Vajpayee-led NDA government, presented interim Budget for 2004-05. Singh, in the interim Budget, announced changes in the stamp duty structure, revival packages for the tea and sugar industries and merging of dearness allowance with basic pay.
12. Pranab Mukherjee presented the interim Budget in 2008-09 at the end of the first term of the UPA government. Acknowledging that the term of the government was coming to an end, and citing constitutional propriety, he said extraordinary economic circumstances merit extraordinary measures.
13. P Chidambaram presented an interim Budget on February 17, 2014. He took over the Finance Ministry after Pranab Mukherjee moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan.