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Interim Budget 2019: Successive govts have made it a populist occasion


New Delhi, Feb 1: Union Minister Piyush Goyal was set to present the interim budget in the parliament on Friday, February 1, in the absence of an ailing Arun Jaitley. This is an interim budget for the remaining few months of the outgoing government before the general elections are held by May.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal

Populist expectations were high from the final budget of the NDA II government ahead of the big election. Questions were being asked whether an interim budget can also leave a significant impact on inflating expenditure?

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Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had made considerable tax changes in the interim budget of 2014, the year when the UPA II government was defeated and Narendra Modi came to power.

On February 17 that year, Chidambaram had claimed that the country's economic situation was such that the government could not wait till the regular budget for making significant decisions.

The minister thus announced a number of changes to the indirect tax laws that included excise duty cuts on items like mobile phones, automobiles, etc. He also accepted the principle of one rank one pension for the defence forces that was said to be implemented in the following fiscal.

Another former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee also made significant announcements in the interim budget presented in 2009-10, when the UPA I government was set to vacate office.

Among his decisions was refinancing of commercial bank loans for PPP projects by the IIFCL.

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NDA I's finance minister Jaswant Singh also proposed merging 50 per cent of dearness allowance with basic salary of government employees.

As electoral politics becomes more competitive, successive governments have not spared the opportunity provided by the interim budget to present populist cases to lure voters.

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