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Uncertainty over Delhi budget as Centre yet to respond on resubmission

The Budget Session was scheduled to get over on March 23

Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot addresses the media at Delhi Assembly during the Budget Session | PTI

Delhi government has resubmitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for its clearance of the budget of the national capital territory for the financial year 2023-24 that was scheduled to be presented in the Vidhan Sabha today, after some queries were raised by the Centre over certain proposals of the budget.

There is, however, uncertainty over when the budget will be presented since the Delhi government is yet to hear from the Centre with regard to the financial document after its resubmission.

Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot told reporters that responses to the queries raised by the MHA with regard to the budget were framed and communicated to the relevant authorities yesterday evening.

The responses were approved by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal around 9:00 pm last night and sent to Lt Governor V. K. Saxena immediately after. The clearance from Saxena came around 11 pm, after which the file was sent to the Delhi government's Principal Secretary, Finance.

Gahlot said the budget was resubmitted to the MHA around 9:00 am this morning through an e-mail and the physical copy has also been sent to the Centre. He, however, said that so far there is no information from the Centre with regard to the resubmitted budget.

Recounting the sequence of events that led to the unprecedented situation of the presentation of the budget getting delayed, Gahlot said the budget document was sent to the MHA on March 10, well in advance of its scheduled presentation in the Vidhan Sabha on March 21.

He said it was brought to his notice only around 2:00 pm yesterday (Monday) that the MHA had raised some queries about the budget through a letter on March 17 and not approved it.

He sought further information from the Principal Secretary, Finance and the Chief Secretary and asked the officials to put before him the queries in the proper official format so that they could be replied to.

“At six pm, the file was put up before me and we immediately formed replies to the queries,” Gahlot said.

“It is very surprising indeed that the Finance Minister gets to know about the queries which were communicated by the MHA on March 17 on March 20,” he said.

He described the development as “unconstitutional”, saying it is for the first time that an elected government has not been allowed to present the budget.

“The intention is to now allow Delhi government to work. If the budget is not presented, salaries cannot be paid and the work of the government will come to a standstill...If everything is to be done by asking the Centre, then why do we have a Delhi cabinet and an elected government?,” Gahlot said.

There is uncertainty over when the budget will be presented since the Delhi government has still not heard from the MHA. The Budget Session was scheduled to get over on March 23.

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