Delhi Budget to be presented at 11am after much drama

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It emerged that the President had not approved the Budget late on Monday, and delayed its presentation scheduled for Tuesday

Finance minister Kailash Gahlot is set to present Delhi’s annual Budget at 11am on Wednesday a day after the Union home ministry signed off on it after hours of drama.

The ministry gave the go-ahead as an impasse between Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government delayed the Budget presentation scheduled for Tuesday.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the delay in approval from the ministry at the eleventh hour an “unprecedented constitutional crisis” and accused the Union government of “interfering” with the Budget.

The ministry underlined it flagged procedural concerns and that the Delhi government did not address them even as Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to clear the Budget.

The Delhi and Union governments have been at loggerheads, which have held up several projects and initiatives. Their confrontation escalated last month over former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s arrest in connection with the alleged irregularities in the now scrapped 2021-22 excise policy. The AAP has denied the irregularities.

It emerged the President had not approved the Budget late on Monday, triggering the fresh impasse.

Gahlot on Tuesday said the Budget document was sent for approval on March 10. He said the Union home ministry refused to approve the document through a letter to the chief secretary on March 17. “For mysterious reasons, the chief secretary of Delhi kept the letter hidden for three days.”

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, says the government needs the President’s sanction before presenting the Budget.

The Lieutenant Governor (LG)’s office apparently flagged inadequate spending on capital expenditure in the Budget, plans for subsidy as compensation to agencies with uneconomic recovery, and non-implementation of central schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, which has put additional funds out of its reach, as well as spending pegged at over ₹500 crore by the information and publicity department.