28 February 2015

The Explainer: Budget Terminology - Part I

In India, there is hardly any economic event that captures popular imagination as much as the Union Budget. In this Budget series, The Explainer will focus on the complex budget jargon that puts off even interested-in-budget souls.

So, here we go!

What is a Fiscal Year?
Any twelve-month period that is used for submission of accounts, taxation purposes and to state financial reporting by private and public sector companies is called a Fiscal Year.

In India, the Government has laid down the provision that the 12-month starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 of next year will be treated as a Fiscal Year.

To put it in perspective, this article is being written on 28 February 2015, i.e., in Financial Year 2014-15. This is also called Fiscal Year ’15.

In the same way, the financial year for 2015-16 will start on 1 April 2015 and will end on 31 March 2016. So on 1 April 2015, we will enter Fiscal Year ’16.

Why is the Union Budget presented on the last day of February?
The Finance Minister of India presents the annual Union Budget in the Parliament of India. It is typically presented on the last day of February, for the following reasons: 

(a) After presentation, the Budget is tabled in the Parliament where members of both the Houses would debate the various provisions listed in the Budget. This would require a few days of debate and discussion. 

(b) Also, after such budget debate, any amendment to the original provision (like increasing or decreasing the allocation for a said ministry/program and rolling back any budget proposal) will have to be tabled, discussed, passed, and brought into law by the Parliament. 

(c) Also, the administrative system, especially in case of tax administration, would need to be geared up to reflect any change in the financial, taxation or any other system.

What is the Economic Survey?
The Finance Minister's Budget Speech contains two major components: Part A and Part B.

Part A of the Speech contains the Economic Survey while Part B comprises the Union Budget Speech.

The Economic Survey is tabled by the Ministry of Finance in the Parliament along with the Union Budget.

The Economic Survey is an assessment of the performance of the Indian economy in the fiscal year going by. For example, the Economic Survey 2014-15 presents an assessment of the performance of the Indian economy in that fiscal year (i.e., 2014-15).

What is the Budget?
So while the Economic Survey is an assessment of the performance of the Indian economy in the fiscal year gone by (i.e., the one that ends on March 31 this year), the Union Budget is a statement of revenues and expenditures for the coming fiscal year, i.e., the one that starts on April 1 of this year.

The second part of this Explainer will appear tomorrow.

27 February 2015

Budget Tomorrow

Today's Book Excerpt will not appear; tomorrow an explainer on the budget terminology will appear. 

25 February 2015

Governments & Violence: An infographic

Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, has released an interesting infographic on how governments, of major nations, have failed to protect people from violence.

22 February 2015

Sunday Reads - Lessons from Coal Auction

From today, all regular features will appear on appointed days. Here are this Sunday's brilliant reads.

  • Deng Xiaoping devised what was good for Mainland China. (New IE)
  • Life destroying 'spice' drug engulfs Russia. (AlJazeera)
  • Why science is so hard to believe. (WaPo)
  • Lessons from the coal auction. (ET)

Read The Explainer: Understanding the Budget - Part I and Part II

01 February 2015

Sunday Reads: CIA+Mossad and Cheap Oil

  • Japan's Abe's vision under threat. (AlJazeera)
  • Seven reasons cheap oil cannot stop renewables now. (Bloomberg)