For the last few weeks, it was being speculated that the Modi government was planning to present a full budget instead of an interim budget. Reacting to the reports, Congress party had strongly opposed the reported move, saying government does not have the mandate to bring a full budget. Congress leader Manish Tewari had said that “the Congress party strongly demands that the NDA-BJP Government follows constitutional propriety and only presents a vote-on-account on February 1, 2019”. In a vote of account, the government in its last year seeks the parliamentary approval for expenses for the remaining few months in its term, and no changes in the tax regime is made.
Although traditionally governments have been presenting Vote on Account in their last years, that is always not the case. Congress governments themselves had brought changes in tax rates in the interim budgets presented in the last year of their rules.
In the interim budget for the year 2014 presented by finance minister P Chidambaram, several changes were made in tax rates. In that budget, the excise duty on Small cars, motor cycles, scooters and commercial vehicles was reduced from 12% to 8%, excise on SUVs was reduced from 30% to 24%, and for large and mid-segment cars it came down from 27/24% to 24/20%.
Similarly, various taxes like CENVAT, customs duty, CVD etc on mobile handsets, soaps, construction machinery etc were reduced to encourage domestic production.
Other than changes in taxes, P Chidambaram had also announced that the government had accepted the principle of One Rank One Pension for the defence forces. The finance minister had allocated ₹500 for the scheme. This was a major policy decision incorporated in an interim budget.
Major policy decisions had been made in several other interim budgets too earlier. Therefore, even if Piyush Goyal announces some major policy decisions or makes changes in tax structure, Congress party has no right to oppose the same. The finance ministry has already announced that it will be presenting an interim budget, not full budget as reported by media reports.