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Updated February 1st, 2024 at 08:09 IST

Union Budget vs Interim Budget: Key differences and implications for 2024

While Union Budget spans the entire fiscal year, detailing income sources and expenses, Interim Budget is a concise overview with a focus on a limited period.

Union Budget vs Interim Budget
Union Budget vs Interim Budget | Image:Republic
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Union Budget vs Interim Budget: As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gears up to announce the interim budget on February 1, it's crucial to grasp the distinctions between the Union Budget and the Interim Budget, particularly in an election year.

Union Budget

The Union Budget, presented annually by the Central Government in Parliament, undergoes comprehensive discussions in the Lok Sabha. It encompasses two primary components – detailing the income and expenses of the previous year and outlining the government's plan for fund allocation and utilisation for national development. This budget spans the entire fiscal year and provides a detailed breakdown of income and expenses, including spending on various social welfare measures funded through taxes.

Interim Budget

On the other hand, the Interim Budget surfaces just before general elections, typically lasting for a brief period of 2 to 4 months within the fiscal year. Unlike the Union Budget, discussions on the Interim Budget involve the passing of a vote on account without detailed deliberation in the Lok Sabha. This budget offers a summary of the income and expenses from the preceding year, with a focus on the upcoming months until the charge is assumed by the next government. Notably, the Interim Budget lacks detailed information on income sources, especially through tax collection.

Key differences between Union Budget and Interim Budget

The primary distinction lies in the duration and depth of coverage. While the Union Budget spans the entire fiscal year, detailing income sources and extensive expenses, the Interim Budget is a concise overview with a focus on a limited period. Additionally, the Union Budget involves thorough discussions and approval in Lok Sabha, whereas the Interim Budget's passage is through a vote on account without in-depth deliberations.

What is vote-on-account?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman labels the upcoming budget as a "vote-on-account" rather than an Interim Budget. A vote-on-account primarily focusses on essential expenditures for a short period – salaries, ongoing projects, and governmental expenses. It serves as an advance grant, allowing the outgoing government to draw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India for two to four months until the new government presents a comprehensive Budget.

Influence of election Code of Conduct

Considering the Election Commission's code of conduct, major tax and economy-related policies are restrained during an election year's Interim Budget. Taxpayers are likely to witness substantial announcements only after the new government takes charge in July.

Looking ahead to 2024

As the Finance Minister prepares for her sixth Budget presentation, the distinction between Union and Interim Budgets becomes crucial. The upcoming presentation is expected to be a vote-on-account, setting the stage for a full-fledged Budget in July 2024 after the general elections.

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Published January 23rd, 2024 at 20:23 IST

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