Union Budget 2017: Important concepts for competitive exams

The Union Budget 2017-18 was tabled before the Parliament yesterday, February 1, 2017. The verdict on how good or bad the budget is still out, but this is not important. What is important for competitive exams aspirants is to understand the budget. The budget consists of estimates of revenues and expenditures to be incurred by the government throughout the fiscal year, starting from April 2017 to March 2018. Following are important concepts included in the budget which will help in understanding:

Consolidated Fund of India

  • Article 266 of Indian Constitution provides for a consolidated fund to be maintained.
  • The fund includes – Government revenues, loans raised by it, receipts from loan recoveries.
  • All expenditure incurred by Government of India.
  • Authorisation of Parliament is required to incur these expenditures.

Contingency Fund of India

  • Article 267 of Indian Constitution provides for a contingency fund.
  • It includes funds to meet urgent unforeseen expenditures.
  • It is at the disposal of the President of India and Parliament authorisation is taken ex-post-facto. This means the immediate need is met with assent of President from the fund. This amount is later reimbursed from Consolidated fund which is done with Parliamentary approval. 

Public Account of India

  • Public account is money held by the government in trust.
  • It includes provident fund, small savings and income kept aside to be spent on specific objects such as road development, primary education etc.
  • This money has to be paid back to persons and authorities who deposited it.

Revenue Budget

  • Tax revenues – revenues from tax and duties levied by Union.
  • Non-tax revenue – interest and dividends on investments made by government
  • Revenue expenditure – this expenditure does not result in the creation of assets. For example, subsidies, grant in aid, interest on debt

Capital Budget

  • Loans raised by the government from public, borrowings from Reserve Bank of India is considered under this sub-heading in the budget.
  • Expenditure incurred on acquisition of assets are included on the expenditure side of the capital budget.

Three important acronyms mentioned in the budget:

  • Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) programme is aimed at increasing employability of youth by providing them market-relevant skills and training. It aims to train 3.5 crore youth.
  • Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Mind (SWAYAM) is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform which will have 350 courses, leveraging information technology.
  • Revenue, Accountability, Probity, Information and Digitisation (RAPID) is a strategy to be implemented by Income Tax Department under an initiative to reform the tax administration.