- Piyush Goyal has been given the temporary charge of Finance Ministry
- Sources said that the interim budget will be presented on February 1
- Last year, Mr Goyal had filled in for Mr Jaitley for nearly three months
Nine days ahead of the interim budget, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has been given the temporary charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries. He is filling in for Union minister Arun Jaitley, who is away in the US for medical treatment. Sources said Mr Jaitley has undergone a surgery and is unlikely to present the budget, due on February 1.
Last year too, Piyush Goyal had filled in for Mr Jaitley for nearly three months when the Union finance minister underwent a kidney transplant surgery.
A communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan this evening said: "The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, hereby directed that during the period of indisposition of Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister; the portfolios of Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs held by him, be temporarily assigned to Shri Piyush Goyal, in addition to his existing portfolios."
Arun Jaitley's visit to the US had triggered questions whether he will be able to present the interim budget ahead of the national election, which is due by May. Two days ago, sources said he would be back in time.
This year, there are expectations that the government will make a departure from norm in the interim budget to announce some important decisions.
Speculation started after Mr Jaitley, in an interview last week, said the economy was facing challenges that "really can't afford to wait and therefore obviously there will be a necessity to address them".
Traditionally, an interim budget gets parliament's approval for expenses for the financial year starting in April till a new government is in place. The incoming government presents a fresh budget for the rest of the financial year.
"Ordinarily there's no reason why we should move away from that convention," Mr Jaitley said. He however added that "the larger interest of the economy always dictates what goes into an interim budget."
There are expectations that a possible departure will include key announcements for the farm sector. For the middle class, the government is reportedly planning to increase the income tax exemption limit.
The parliament will meet from January 31 to February 13 for the budget session.
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