The world’s largest railway network and the nation’s largest employer, Indian Railways has a separate budget presentation for over a period of 92 years. Now, the Union Cabinet of India has announced that the Railway budget will merge with General Budget.
Usually, the Railways budget would be presented two days before the general budget. A committee on restructuring of the Railway Ministry, headed by Niti Aayog member Mr. Bibek Debroy has made the recommendations to abolish the separate railway budget presentation system.
This is the old system that is being continued from the time of British rule in India. The Indian Cabinet in this regard has given a nod for the merger. The tradition to present the Indian Railways budget separately will not be seen from next budget session itself.
Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley has stated that this, and termed it as “top priority.” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted this as “A historic step.” Anyways, Suresh Prabhu has confirmed that the functional autonomy of the Railways will remain same.
From now on all the proposals and the allocations of Railways will be included in the general budget itself. But there will be a separate debate for the income and expenditure regarding the railways.
This merger can be taken as a positive step, as the financial deficit of Indian Railways now can be transferred to the finance ministry directly. It is known that the Railways are running with heavy losses. This would be a kind of relief for the Railways ministry.
This is just a part of the cabinet decision regarding the format of the budget presentation in Indian Parliament. There are quite a few changes that might take place for the coming budget sessions. Date of Budget presentation would be held before the scheduled date of every year.
It might be held on Feb 1st. Citing the general assembly elections in some of the states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Uttarakhand.