Telangana may opt for vote-on-account budget in February '24

Hyderabad: The Telangana state government is likely to present a vote-on-account budget for the 2024-25 financial year, rather than a full-fledged one, given that the Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held in April 2024.

The move comes after the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre decided to present a vote-on-account or interim budget, with the comprehensive budget to be presented after the Lok Sabha elections.

A vote-on-account budget is generally presented by a government in an election year to cover short-term expenditure requirements before the new fiscal begins.

The idea of an interim budget was learned to have come up for discussion in a review meeting on Wednesday held by Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy and Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who holds the finance portfolio, with finance officials at the Secretariat.

Sources said that the idea was proposed as there would be no clarity on the central grants for Telangana in the absence of a comprehensive budget at the Centre.

Revanth Reddy and Bhatti Vikramarka asked finance officials to secure the maximum amount of Central grants and maximum share for Telangana in Centre-sponsored schemes, given that the state was facing a huge debt burden, of over Rs 6.17 lakh crore, which was brought on during the BRS regime between 2014 and 2023.

While they asked officials to include exact figures on Central grants in the State Budget, officials reportedly told them that they could arrive at the same only after the Centre presented a full-fledged Budget. Officials said that only a comprehensive budget would have complete details on how much funds the newly-formed government at the Centre after Lok Sabha polls will allocate to Centre-sponsored schemes, tax devolution to states, etc, which is expected by July.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the previous BRS government also presented a vote-on-account budget in February 2019 and later presented a comprehensive budget in September 2019.

Then Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao presented both the vote-on-account and full-fledged budgets in 2019, with Rs 1.82 lakh crore anticipated in the interim budget later cut down to Rs 1.46 lakh crore, due to no scope for increased grants from the Centre.

Revanth Reddy already issued directions to finance officials to draft a “realistic budget” for 2024-25 and not prepare “jumbo budgets” for the namesake, citing the previous BRS government’s “unrealistic projections” and cuts made later.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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