New Delhi: India Inc today welcomed the government's decision to merge rail budget with the general budget and in-principle to advance the date of its presentation in Parliament from the usual February end. The move will aid in faster implementation of decisions announced in the budget, boost business sentiment and curtail the pressure from populist demands on Railways, the industry said.
"The decision to merge the rail budget with the Union Budget and removal of the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure are commendable initiatives to simplify and streamline decision-making within the government and move towards efficiency of resource use," CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.
"Purely from a policy point of view, the recent Cabinet decisions sends a clear message that the government is orchestrating big bang reforms in a major way," he said. Ending a 92-year-old tradition, the Cabinet today decided to merge rail budget with the general budget and agreed in-principle to advance the date of its presentation in Parliament from the usual February end.
Banerjee stated that expediting the passage of the Budget is a move in the right direction as it would facilitate early implementation of Budget decisions. Global and domestic business sentiment would get a further fillip and so would the environment for doing business in the country.
"It is a good news as the Railways would able to focus more on core business of giving a modern and efficient transportation to the country," Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said, adding that some of the populist demands on the Railways through annual budget will no more be constrained for achieving the overall efficiency in a business-like manner.
The actual date for presentation of the general budget for 2017-18 will be decided by the government after taking into account the ensuing assembly elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while briefing the media about the Cabinet decisions.
The Cabinet has also decided to do away with the Plan/Non-Plan expenditure classification in Budget 2017-18 and replace with 'capital and receipt'.
Senior Economist at ICRA Aditi Nayar said that categorising expenditures as revenue or capital instead of plan or non-plan would increase the focus on reducing the revenue deficit and enhancing capital spending, setting the stage for an improvement in the quality of the fiscal deficit.
The government, Jaitley said, was in favour of advancing the budgetary exercise to that it could be completed before March 31 and expenditure on public-funded schemes could begin from April 1.