Budget session to start on Feb 21

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) The budget session ofParliament will begin on February 21 and the general budgetwill be presented to Lok Sabha on February 28.

The session will be in two parts -- the first uptoMarch 16 and second from April 4 to April 21, it wasofficially announced today.

The session will start on February 21 with thePresident''s Address to a joint sitting of both the Housesoutlining the government''s policies and programmes for thenext financial year.

The Railway Budget and the Economic Survey will bepresented to the Lower House on February 25. Finance MinisterPranab Mukherjee will present the general budget on February28.

The recess between the two parts of the session willbe used by departmentally-related standing committees ofvarious ministries to scrutinise the budgetary demands forgrants.

Normally, the budget session goes on upto the firstweek of May but this year the session has been curtailed inview of Assembly elections due in early May in West Bengal,Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.

There is still uncertainty over whether the budgetsession will be smooth given the fact that the oppositionparties have threatened to carry forward their demand for aJoint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the 2G spectrum scam.

The entire winter session was washed out over thegovernment-opposition deadlock.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also theLeader of the Lok Sabha, has convened a meeting of leaders ofpolitical parties on February 8 in an apparent bid to breakthe deadlock in Parliament.

The meeting has been convened for "mutualconsultations" over the budget session of Parliament, sourcessaid.

President Pratibha Patil had in her Republic Dayaddress made it clear that it was a joint responsibility ofall stakeholders to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament.

However, both the opposition and government are firmin their demands for and against a JPC probe.

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