The Centre on Tuesday responded to the Election Commission over the demands to postpone the Union Budget, PTI reported. The Cabinet Secretariat wrote to the poll panel describing the Union Budget as an annual constitutional exercise covering the entire country, and not just a few states. The government said the Budget presentation was advanced to February 1 so that all budgetary provisions are allocated to different sectors from April 1.

Traditionally, the Budget is usually presented around the last week of February, however, this year the Parliament’s Budget session will be convened from January 31. The Union Budget will be presented on February 1.

On January 5, several Opposition parties – the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) – had met the Election Commission asking for their intervention in delaying the Budget till the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa are over.

Polling in the five states is scheduled to begin on February 4, and the counting of votes will take place on March 11. Last week, the Opposition had also written a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee on the matter. The BJP on January 4 had said the dates cannot be postponed as “every year, some election or the other takes place”.

On December 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Budget Session was being advanced so that the “expenditure to various sectors is authorised by the time the new financial year begins”.