The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the merger of the Railway and Union Budget from 2017-18 onwards.
The Railways, which is the country’s largest employer, has to bear an additional burden of about ₹40,000 crore on account of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission awards, besides an annual outgo of ₹33,000 crore on subsidies for passenger service.
Railways is also facing an accumulated burden of a whopping ₹4.83 lakh crore towards execution of 458 unfinished and ongoing projects.
The revenue deficit and capital expenditure of the Railways will get transferred to the finance ministry.
The Finance Ministry note, accessed by NDTV, had proposed merging the railway and union budgets, with the Finance Minister presenting it on February 1 this year. For this, it proposed, the Budget session of Parliament can be convened before January 25.
The budget process will start three weeks early, in the first week of October and a mid-year review by the department of expenditure in the finance ministry will be completed by November 15, the note says.
In a month after that, by December 25 this year, the government proposes to complete the key process of consulting industries and other stakeholders. GDP projections by the department of statistics will be done by January 7, it says.
Parliament’s three-week recess in the long Budget session will also be advanced, beginning in mid February.
With the Rail Budget merged with the Union Budget, the railways convention committee will be disbanded and the railways will be treated as other major sectors are in the main budget.
Once cabinet approves the budget advancement, the budget division of the finance ministry will start the budget making process.
Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, among other states, are going to polls early next year. However, the government is determined to go ahead with the advancement of the budget to ensure timely utilisation.