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Union Budget 2024: Why Budget presentation time was changed to 11am from 5pm?

Jul 10, 2024 05:32 PM IST

India historically used to present the Union Budget at 5 pm, a colonial practise that was brought to an end in 1999.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to present the Union Budget 2024 on July 23 at 11 am. However, India always used to historically present the budget at 5 pm, switching to 11 am only in the year 1999.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha during the interim Budget Session of Parliament on Friday. (ANI)

Why was India’s Union Budget presented at 5 pm earlier?

The practise of presenting the budget at 5 pm came from the colonial era.

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Since the Indian Standard Time (IST) is 4.5 hours ahead of British Summer Time (BST) and 5.5 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), presenting the budget at 5 pm in India ensures that it is done during the daytime in England at either 12:30 pm BST or 11:30 am GMT for the convenience of the British.

When did India start presenting the Union Budget at 11 am?

India started presenting the Union Budget at 11 am in 1999 under Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. Sinha was India’s finance minister from 1998 to 2002.

Also Read: Your Union Budget 2024 cheatsheet: Direct, indirect taxes and what you must look for

Apart from the fact that adapting to England’s time zone was no longer required, Sinha brought in the new change citing that it would allow more time for parliamentary debate and for analysing numbers of the budget.

The Union Budget was presented by Sinha at 11 am for the first time on February 27, 1999, following which, the practise has continued to the present day.

Why did India start presenting the Union Budget on Feb 1 of every year?

Historically, India has always presented the budget on the last day of February.

However, this practise changed in 2017 under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who made the change citing ease of implementing new budgetary policies for the upcoming financial year which starts on April 1, due to the extra time of one month now available. There’s also the reason that it is a colonial practise which is being brought to an end.

India also merged the Railways Budget with the Union Budget in the same year as these used to be presented separately earlier. This broke a 92 year tradition.

Also Read: Worried about rising prices? Here’s what inflation trends are ahead of Union Budget

The Union Budget 2024 is being presented on July 23 since this was an election year and the interim budget was presented on February 1.

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