THE BUDGET

The Budget is the annual financial statement of the Government. It is a Government Bill and is classified as a Money Bill. It is presented before the Lok Sabha upon the recommendation of the President. It is the duty of the President to cause to lay before both Houses of Parliament the annual financial statement. It is presented by the Finance Minister. The Budget is a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditures of the Government of India for the following financial year. It also states proposals of taxation and other ways and means of raising the receipts and meeting the expenditures. Apart from this, it also contains the actual receipts and expenditure of the previous year with a review of the financial position during that period.

The BudgetAfter introduction of the Budget, the Lok Sabha discusses the demands for grants (i. e. proposed expenditure) of various Ministries and Departments and are approved by it, one by one. All the expenditures approved through various demands for grants and expenses charged on the Consolidated Fund of India, are then presented in the form of a single Bill called the “Appropriation Bill”. The proposals for taxation to raise revenue are presented in the form of “Finance Bill”. Both the aforesaid two Bills are Money Bills and are passed accordingly.

Consolidated Fund of India. It is a Fund to which ail the revenues, loans raised and income of the Government of India are deposited. Similarly, no money can be spent out of this Fund except through the grants made by Parliament and expenditures charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Charged Expenditures. Charged expenditures are expenditures that do not require the approval of Parliament to be spent out of the Consolidated Fund of India. These expenditures are sanctioned either by the Constitution itself or by Acts of Parliament. According to Article 112(3) the following are some of the charged expenditures on the Consolidated Fund of India:

  • The emoluments and allowances of the President and other expenditures relating to his office.
  • The salaries and allowances of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • Debt charges for which the Government of India is liable.
  • Salaries, allowances and pension payable to the Judges of the Supreme Court and the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and the pension payable to the Judges of the High Courts.
  • Any other expenditure declared by the Constitution or by Parliament by law to be so charged.

Contingency Fund of India

This fund was created in 1950 by an Act of Parliament on the basis of powers provided under Art. 267. It has a limit of Rs. 50 crore. It is placed at the disposal of the President to meet unforeseen expenditures where the Parliament’s approval cannot be obtained owing to time factor. However, the sanction of Parliament is necessary to replenish the Fund from the Consolidated Fund of India. For example, when the Sixth Lok Sabha was dissolved in 1979, the President sanctioned funds from the Contingency Fund of India to meet the expenditure of the Seventh Lok Sabha elections. Later, with the approval of the Lok Sabha, the amount spent on holding elections to the Seventh Lok Sabha was transferred from the Consolidated Fund of India to the Contingency Fund of India. The States have their own Consolidated and Contingency Funds.

Vote on Account

It is the power of the Lok Sabha (not Rajya Sabha) to authorise various Ministries to incur expenditure for a part of any financial year pending the passage of Appropriation Act by the Parliament.

Parliamentary Committees

As the domain of mankind increases both in volume and variety, so as that of a State. The Legislatures of the modern times have come to perform complex and enormous quantity of work. Because of the paucity of time, a considerable amount of function of a Legislature, especially the initial stage of its functions, are nowadays handled by the committees appointed or elected for such purposes. Most of these Committees function under the direction of the Speaker and submit their reports to the Lok Sabha or to the Speaker. They are essentially Committees of the Lok Sabha. The Parliamentary Committees are generally classified under two heads viz., Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees. Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist after they complete the task assigned to them and submit a report to the Lok Sabha or to the Speaker. The Standing Committees are permanent Committees but their members are either elected or appointed or nominated by the Houses of Parliament or by the Speaker. The most important Committees with their strength in brackets are as follows: Business Advisory Committee (15); Committee on Estimates (30); Committee on Government Assurances (15); General Purpose Committee (22); House Committee (12); Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament (15); Library Committee (9); Committee on Privileges (15); Committee on Public Accounts (22); Committee on Paper laid on the Table (15); Committee on Petitions (15); Committee on Public Undertakings (22); Rules Committee (15); Committee on Sub-ordinate Legislation (15); Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (30) and Departmentally related Standing Committees etc.

The Standing Committees may be conveniently classified as follows:

1. Committees to Enquire -

  • Committee on Petitions.
  • Committee on Privileges.
  • Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Committee on Welfare of Women and Minorities.

2. Committees to Scrutinise -

  • Committee on Government Assurances.
  • Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
  • Committee on Papers laid on the Table of the House.

3. Financial Committees

  • Estimates Committee
  • Public Accounts Committee
  • Committee on Public Undertaking
  • 17 Departmentally related Committees.

4. Committees of an Administrative Character

  • Business Advisory Committee
  • Committee on Private Members’ Bill
  • Committee on Absence of Members
  • Committee on Office of Profit

5. Committees dealing with Provision of Facilities to Members

  • General Purpose Committee
  • House Committee
  • Library Committee
  • Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances
  • Rules Committee

Members of the Rajya Sabha are associated with ail the Committees except the Estimates Committee. They constitute about one third of the strength of each Committee. They are either elected by the Rajya Sabha or nominated by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The members of the Lok Sabha are associated with all the Committees of Parliament and whenever the members of Rajya Sabha are also associated, the members of the Lok Sabha constitute above two-thirds of the strength of such Committees. They are either elected by the Lok Sabha or nominated by the Speaker. The members of the Committees of Parliament are generally elected or nominated for a term of not more than one year. As far as possible, all the parties in Parliament are represented in the Committees proportionate to their strength in the Parliament. The Committees are, therefore, microcosm of Houses of Parliament. The Chairman of all the Committees of Parliament except the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament are appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of the respective committees. In case, the Speaker is a member of  a committee, he is ex-officio Chairman of the Committee. Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament elects its own Chairman. The Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts is appointed by the Speaker from amongst opposition members elected from the Lok Sabha. The mode of election of members, functions etc., of some of the important Committees of Parliament are as follows:

Committee on Estimates

The Estimates Committee consists of 30 members – all from Lok Sabha – who are elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. This system of election ensures that each party is represented on the Committee in proportion to its strength in the Lok Sabha. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members. A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee, and if a member, after his election to the Committee, is appointed as a Minister, he ceases to be a member of the Committee from the date of such appointment. The term of office of the members of the Committee is not more than one year. The functions of the Committee are: (a) to report what improvements in organization and efficiency consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, may be effected; (b) to examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates; and (c) to suggest the form in which estimates shall be presented to Parliament. The Committee may examine such of the estimates as may deem fit to the Committee or are specifically referred to it by the House or the Speaker. Public Undertakings allotted to the Committee on Public Undertakings are outside the purview of the Estimates Committee. The Committee does not go against the policy approved by Parliament but brings to the notice of the House if a change in policy is called for.

Committee on Public Accounts

The Committee on Public Accounts consists of 15 Members elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. It is basically a Committee of the Lok Sabha. Initially it consisted of members elected from Lok Sabha only. But seven members of the Rajya Sabha elected by that House in like manner were later associated with the Committee. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha elected to the Committee. By convention, the Speaker appoints a Member of the Opposition as the Chairman of the Committee. A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee. The term of office of the Members of the Committee is not more than one year. The Public Accounts Committee examines the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the expenditure of the Government of India, the annual Financial Accounts of the Government of India and such other accounts laid before the House as the Committee may think fit. The Committee examines also the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General or Revenue Receipts — one relating to Direct Taxes and the other relating to Indirect Taxes. The Committee, however, does not examine the accounts relating to such Public Undertakings that are allotted to the Committee on Public Undertakings.

Committee on Public Undertakings

The Committee on Public Undertakings consists of 15 Members elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Seven members of the Rajya Sabha elected by that House in like manner are associated with the Committee. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst members of the Lok Sabha elected to the Committee. A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee. The functions of the committee are to examine the Reports and Accounts of the Public Undertakings specified in the Fourth Schedule of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Lok Sabha and the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon, if any, and to examine, in the context to the autonomy and efficiency of the public undertakings, whether the affairs of the public undertakings, are being run efficiently and managed in accordance with the sound business principles and prudent commercial practices. The Committee may also examine such subjects or matters which may be specifically referred to it by the House or by the Speaker.

Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

The Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes consists of 20 members elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Ten members of the Rajya Sabha elected by that House in like manner are associated with the Committee. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha elected to the Committee. A Minister is not eligible to be elected as a member of the Committee. The important functions of the Committee are to consider the reports submitted by the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, to examine the representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in services of Central Government Departments, Central Public Undertakings, Nationalised Banks etc., and to review the working of welfare programmes for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Union Territories. The Committee also examines such other matters as may deem fit to the Committee or are specifically referred to it by the House or the Speaker. The Committee can also examine the implementation of various programmes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by State Governments, provided funds are made available partly or wholly by the Central Government.

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