5. Annual Financial Statement
Annual financial statement also called the Budget is the statement given at the beginning of every financial year which gives the estimates of the expenditure of the government of India for a year and means of meeting these expenditures. Finance Minister of the country introduces the budget. The explanation of the economic policy and spending program of the government in the coming year is introduced in Lower House of the Parliament upon consent of the President but is placed before both the House of the Parliament.
After this, a general discussion of the statement takes place in both the Houses. This involves review and criticism of the administration. Next, voting of the grants (demands for expenditure made by the government) takes place by House of the People. After the grants are voted by the House of the People, the grants as well as the expenditures charged on the Consolidated Fund of India are incorporated into an Appropriation Bill. The Appropriation Bill is intended to give authority to Government to incur expenditure from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India. This Bill being the Money Bill once passed by the Lower House shall be transmitted to the Upper House which has power of only giving suggestions (within 14 days) to the Lower House and no amendments or rejection can be made by it. The Lower House may accept or reject its recommendations. Thereafter the bill becomes the law upon assent of the President. If the majority of the members do not accept the Statement, the Bill is said to have not been passed and the Government is said to have lost the majority in the House. Hence the Prime Minster has to resign along with his Council of Ministers.
Role of Estimates Committee & Public Accounts Committee
The Estimates Committee checks the estimates of the policies made by the Government. The Demands for Grants of various Ministries are considered by concerned Standing Committee. These committees submit their reports to the House. The Public Accounts Committee scrutinises the finance accounts of the Government and ensures that public money is spent in accordance with the Parliament’s decision and calls attention to cases of misuse, waste and loss of expenditure.
Role of CAG
CAG examines if the expenditure of the Government is in accordance with the Appropriation Act. It conducts performance audit of the accounts of the Union and satisfies itself if expenditure incurred has been sanctioned by the parliament. It then submits its report the President who lays it before each House of the Parliament.
Role of Rajya Sabha
When the Budget is introduced in the Upper House, it can neither amend nor reject, it can only give suggestions. It is entirely up to the Lower House to accept these suggestions or not. Whereas in USA, the Senate, has the power to reject the Budget if it is not satisfied. In that case the budget must be reintroduced again. The Budget cannot be introduced in the Senate; it can only be introduced in the House of Representatives.
6. Call Attention Motion (or Adjournment Motion)
A Member of the Parliament can call the attention of the House to any matter of urgent public importance with the permission of the Speaker. There is no Call Attention Motion in the Upper House. When Call Attention Motion is taken up all other activities are set aside and the Motion is given primary importance. Only one matter can be taken up per day and the Speaker decides which one is the most important and urgent matter.
Motions for reduction to various Demands for Grants are made in the form of Cut Motions seeking to reduce the sums sought by Government on grounds of economy or difference of opinion on matters of policy or just in order to voice a grievance. If the Cut Motion is adopted by the House the Government loses the majority and is obliged to resign or seek a parliamentary dissolution since a Government which cannot spend money is hamstrung. There are three types of Cut Motions;
Disapproval of Policy Cut – This motion asks the amount of the demand be reduced to Re1/-, representing disapproval of the policy underlying the demand.
Economy Cut – this procedure asks for a specific amount of money to be reduced from the grant. These can even be a reduction of an item in the demand.
7. Zero Hour
Generally after the Question Hour, if the Speaker permits there can be a half an hour debate on an answer given by the Minister which the members seek to clarify. This has led to a concept of Zero Hour where any issue of public interest which is of urgent importance can be brought up for discussion without prior notice. Since it starts at 12 Noon; hence the name Zero Hour. Sometimes members refrain from discussing any issue in the Zero Hour, and utilise the hour in protest, creating commotions and making allegations on the Government.
(I think I may need clarification on Zero Hour, someone please correct me in areas where I am wrong)
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