Union Budget 2024: Why was Budget date changed to February 1?

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the interim Union Budget 2024 for the coming fiscal year on February 1. This budget will have no major announcements and will be considered a placeholder till after the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are declared.

Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Ministry officials will present the Union Budget on February 1.
Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Ministry officials will present the Union Budget on February 1.

The interim Budget 2024 will not include any major policy changes and the Union Budget 2024 will only be presented after a new government is formed after the general elections in the country in April-May 2024.

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The Union Budget presentation has been taking place on February 1 for several years, but what many people don’t know is that earlier, the Budget presentation was done in the Parliament towards the end of February, usually in the last week.

The date of Budget presentation was first changed in 2017, when the budget document was presented by the Finance Ministry on February 1 for the first time, as opposed to the last week of the month.

On February 1, 2017, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that the Union Budget would be presented on the first day of February from now on, and not on the last working day of the month, as it was done in the colonial era.

Why was Union Budget presentation date changed?

The primary reason for the budget to be presented on February 1 instead of the last day of the month was to end the practice followed during the colonial era under British rule. However, this was not the only reason for the date change.

Arun Jaitley had pointed out that the presentation of the Budget during February end gave it very less time for the government to prepare for the new policies and changes in the span of a month, from April 1. So, the date of presentation was shifted to February 1.

Apart from this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also ended the practice of presenting a separate Budget for Railways, as was done under the British rule. The FM had announced that the Railways Budget would be merged with the Union Budget.

Earlier, the time of the presentation of the budget was also different. During the British era, the Budget was presented at 5 pm in the evening, in line with the British local time. However, this practice was not changed in India even after independence.

In 1999 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA government, Finance Minister Yashwant Singh had proposed that the Union Budget should be presented at 11 am instead of 5 pm, giving Parliament MPs a time for a greater discussion and debate regarding the same.

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