The Finance Ministry has initiated the process of preparing the interim budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 by soliciting expenditure inputs from various ministries and departments, according to a report by PTI. Given that Lok Sabha elections are scheduled for early next year, this budget will serve as an interim measure. The complete budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 will be presented following the formation of the new government post-elections.
Pre-budget meetings, chaired by the Secretary (Expenditure), are set to commence in the second week of October 2023 and will extend until around mid-November 2023, as outlined in the Budget Circular (2024-25) from the Budget Division under the Department of Economic Affairs of the Finance Ministry.
As per the circular dated September 1, financial advisers are instructed to ensure the submission of the necessary details by October 5, 2023. The Budget Estimates for the fiscal year 2024-25 will be provisionally finalized once the pre-budget meetings have concluded.
During these pre-budget meetings, discussions will revolve around the funding requirements for various categories of expenditures, along with the receipts of ministries and departments. Additionally, non-tax revenues, including arrears of non-tax revenue and indicative budget figures, will be discussed on a net basis.
Furthermore, all ministries or departments are mandated to provide details concerning autonomous bodies or implementing agencies for which a dedicated corpus fund has been established. The circular emphasizes the importance of explaining the rationale for their continuation and the necessity of grant-in-aid support. It further suggests that ministries or departments elaborate on why these entities should not be wound up.
The interim Budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 is anticipated to be presented on February 1. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will oversee the formulation of this budget, marking her sixth budget presentation. Her first full Budget was presented in July 2019.
In the current fiscal year’s budget, a nominal growth rate of 10.5% was projected, while the fiscal deficit was pegged at 5.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The shift to a February presentation for the budget allows for earlier approvals from Parliament. This, in turn, enables government departments to initiate spending on projects sooner, typically after the conclusion of the monsoon season in August or September.
The interim budget plays a crucial role in maintaining government operations and financial stability during the transition period leading up to general elections.