Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today received a pat from President Pranab Mukherjee for completing the budget exercise by March 31 and not seeking a the Vote on Account, which happened for the first time in many years. “I congratulate the Finance Minister for completing the budgetary exercise and seeking the approval of both houses of Parliament, all the expenditure proposals, and all matters relating to the Finance Bill within March 31. And after many years, I do not remember of after how many years, no Vote on Account was taken this particular year,” the President said.
The Vote on Account is an interim arrangement under which approval of Parliament is obtained to withdraw money from the consolidated fund when the budget for new financial year is not passed. The President was speaking after the mega draw of Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government this year advanced the budget presentaion to February 1 from the traditional presentation date of February 28 or the last working day of the month. The move was aimed at helping the government begin the investment cycle right from the first day of the new financial year, April 1.
The nearly century-long practice of having a separate railway budget was also ended and it was merged with the General Budget. Referring to the 12 digit unique identity number Aadhaar, the President said it is “a watershed event” in the development story of India.
“Aadhaar enabled payment system has made digital payments possible for even those who do not have mobile phones. The government has enabled development of new modes of digital payments with goal to make their use easy and seamless. The launch of Bhim has demystified the digital payments,” he said. He further said India has a long way to go to become cashless society.
“The initiatives of the government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a good beginning and we need to sustain and nurture this with active participation from all segments of the society,” the President said. He stressed it is necessary to reduce cash in circulation and impart greater urgency to promoting secure digital payment methods to ensure greater transparency.
Following demonetisation of old Rs 500/1000 notes on November 9 last year, the government took a slew of measures to promote digital payments in the country. The government launched the Lucky Grahak Yojana for consumers and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana for merchants on December 25, 2016 in order to promote digital transactions. These schemes are being implemented by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).
Winners selected through the draw today would be awarded by Prime Minister Modi on April 14 in Nagpur. Customers and merchants using RuPay Card, BHIM / UPI, USSD and AePS were eligible for wining daily & weekly lucky draw prizes.
As many as 14,000 weekly winners, both consumers and merchants, received a total prize money of over Rs 8.3 crore every week. DigiDhanMelas were also held across India in 100 cities over 100 days and 15,000 consumers qualified everyday for total prize money of Rs 1.5 crore.
The Lucky Grahak Yojana rewards Rs 1,000 daily to 15,000 customers undertaking digital transactions. Weekly prizes up to Rs 1 lakh for consumers and Rs 50,000 for merchants are given.