Budget date was locked much before Punjab polls were announced: Arun Jaitley
Dismissing the allegations raised by the Opposition that Budget was scheduled keeping in view the Punjab polls, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the date for presenting the Union Budget was decided much in advance of the Election Commission's announcement of state elections.
The Union Budget is to be presented on February 1 whereas the date for elections in Punjab is Feb 4.
Jaitley said that the Budget was always presented on February 28 but this year it will be announced on February 1.
"The idea is to pass the Finance Bill by March 31, so that next year's expenses could be started from April 1."
Refuting the Opposition's allegation, Jaitley said the date for presenting the budget was decided much earlier, before the announcement of Punjab polls and it would be wrong to say the date was fixed keeping Punjab elections in view.
Political parties including Congress, Left, Samajwadi Party and BSP have voiced reservations against presenting the Budget just three days ahead of the Punjab polls as they feel the budget may be used to announce sops to influence voters.
Jaitley also played down the trouble people faced due to the sudden move by the Union government on November 8 to demonetise high-value currency notes, saying gone were the days when people were seen standing in long queues outside banks.
"Now adequate new currency is available with banks as well as in the market," he said.
Lauding the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past three years, Jaitley said "surgical strike" and demonetisation have been largely praised across the world since such steps strengthen the nation's internal security.
He was in Amritsar on Sunday to address BJP's 'Vijay Sankalp Yatra'.