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29 Dec 2016

Financial year could start in January & end in December

Suchetana Ray, HT, 28 December 2016, NEW DELHI: India can shift to a January to December financial year, recommended a governmentappointed committee headed by former chief economic adviser Shankar Acharya. The proposed switch could end the 150-year tradition of an April to March fiscal introduced by the British.
The committee, set up this July, made this suggestion in its report to the finance ministry this week. It was mandated with the task of studying the merits of government think-tank NITI Aayog’s suggestion to position the financial year with the calendar year.
The panel supported the move and listed the pros and cons of a shift in the accounting period. It said the change will align the fiscal with the monsoon cycle and the country’s agricultural harvests.
“We have submitted our report. We have studied at length the feasibility and desirability of changing the financial year,” Acharya said on Wednesday.
Calendar options such as Sam vat followed by the stock markets and the farm harvest that begins from July were weighed before the panel settled for the January to December financial cycle.
The rabi and kharif winter and summer crop periods, and the fact that more than 156 countries and several multinational companies follow the calendar year as the accounting period were factors that tilted the balance for a changed fiscal.
Besides Acharya, an Oxfordand Harvard-educated economist, the panel included former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, former Tamil Nadu finance secretary PV Rajaraman, and Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow with the Centre for Policy Research.
Economists are divided on the committee’s recommendations.
Since agriculture contributes more than 15% to India’s GDP and above 5
8% rural households depend on farm yields, many experts have supported this move.
“In case of a drought, which happens between June and September, a change in the accounting period from January to December will help in better budgeting.
“If the Union budget is presented in November, then early allocations will help the agro-economy and farmers,” said agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, backing the proposal.

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