New Delhi: In earlier governments, the country's general budget and the railway budget were presented in Parliament on different days. During the first term of the Modi government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley abolished the 92-year-old system and announced the Railway Budget from 2017. A day before the General Budget, the Railway Minister presented the Railway Budget.
With the merger of the Railway Budget in the General Budget, Jaitley also changed the date of presentation of the Budget. The Budget is now being presented about a month ago on 1st February. With this, the Economic Survey also started coming on January 31.
With the presentation of the budget early, the decision to merge the Railways and the General Budget was taken by the government as part of budgetary reforms. It may be mentioned that the practice of a separate Railway Budget was introduced in 1924 under the British rule, as a large portion of the government's revenue and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depended on the revenues earned by the railways.
The revenue from the Railways at that time was proportionately very high. The Budget of the Railways was more than 80 per cent of the total Union Budget. The NITI Aayog had also instructed the government to end the decades-old practice. After a lot of thought and brainstorming with different authorities, the government decided to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget.
The idea was practical because the share of the Railway Budget is now much less as compared to the General Budget. In 2017, the then Finance Minister Jaitley presented the Union and Railway Budget together.