Budget debate time hits all time low of just 11 hours

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) As the Finance Bill 2013-14 was passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday without any debate, parliamentary data shows this session touched one of the lowest points in terms of debate on the budget.

According to data compiled by thinktank PRS Legislative Research, the total time devoted in the Lok Sabha to debate on the general budget in 2013 was just 11 hours.

The 11 hours includes general discussions, a discussion on demand for grants of some ministries and discussion on the Finance Bill for the current fiscal year.

Only once before has the lower house dedicated such little time to debating the general budget: in 1999 when again the total time came up to only 11 hours.

“Over the last three decades, there has been a steady decline on budget discussions. The time spent has dropped from an average of 100 hours plus in the 1980s to about 50 hours in the 1990s, 40 hours in 2000s to 31 hours in the 2010s till now,” M.R. Madhavan, president, PRS Legislative Research, told IANS.

In 1985, the budget was discussed for 135 hours. In 1988, it was discussed for 111 hours, going down to 60 hours in 1989, and then rising to 97 hours in 1990.

From 1991 onwards, the budget discussion time showed a clear declining trend, being 88 hours in 1991, 55 hours in 1993 and 41 hours in 1995.

In 2010, the Lok Sabha debated the budget for 39 hours. In 2011, it was 32 hours and 41 hours in 2012.

“The discussion on the budget usually takes place in three parts: a general discussion, a discussion on demand for grants of some ministries and discussion on the Finance Bill. This year, only the first of these took place,” Madhavan said.

The railway budget was discussed for 17 hours – for more time than given to general budget.

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