Yashwant Sinha for ending era of budget secrecy

New Delhi: Former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Monday made a case for ending the era of budget secrecy, saying the practice has become obsolete.

"In the present era, what is the need for maintaining budget secrecy?" he questioned, while initiating the debate on the Finance Bill, 2012, in the Lok Sabha.

The Budget is prepared under utmost secrecy and the proposals are first revealed to the Lok Sabha by the Finance Minister on last working day of February. "I appeal to Finance Minister in all seriousness to consider this proposal (to end secrecy in making of budget)", Sinha said.

The finance ministers, he added, "any way modify the proposals before they are approved by Parliament."

The proposals, he added, could be placed before the nation for debate and discussion before being taken up for consideration by Parliament. Such steps, Sinha said, will also do away with the dilemma of refunding taxes like excise and customs in case of withdrawal of proposal.

As per the current practice, most of the indirect taxes come into effect after announcement by Finance Minister. Sometimes, these proposals are later withdrawn making it impossible for government to refund the taxes already collected.

Sinha, as Finance Minister, discontinued the age-old practice of presenting the budget at 5 pm in 2000 which had been going on since the British days. He started the practice of unveiling the budget proposals at 11 in the morning.