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Tuesday, Feb 03, 2004

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General vote-on-account today

By Our Special Correspondent



The Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, giving final touches to the interim budget on Monday. - PTI

NEW DELHI, FEB. 2 . The Union Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, will seek a vote-on-account from Parliament tomorrow in order to carry on with essential Government expenditure beyond the current financial year (March 31, 2004) and till a new Parliament approves spending for the full 2004-05 financial year.

A vote-on-account is normally taken every year since the demands for grants of various Ministries and the Finance Bill giving effect to taxation proposals are normally passed by Parliament some time in April-end or early May. To cover its expenses till then, the Government seeks a vote-on-account.

This year, however, the vote-on-account is being sought since Parliament would be dissolved most probably on February 6 and the country will elect a new Lok Sabha through the general elections, likely to be held some time in April-May. The term of the current Lok Sabha is till October 2004, but the Government decided on advancing the general elections to take advantage of the current upswing in the Indian economy and the prevalence of the general `feel-good factor' brought about through a series of positive events.

Though it is normally not the norm to announce major tax or policy proposals during a vote-on-account exercise in Parliament, there is expectation that the Government might make some announcements nonetheless.

Already, a series of measures have been unfolded, addressing the concerns of industry, agriculture, the rural areas, the small-scale sector, the consumers, the senior citizens and the student community.

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