The government will present the budget for 2012-13 in the State Assembly only after polling in the byelection in Piravom constituency on March 18, Finance Minister K.M. Mani has said.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, he said there was no bar on presenting the budget before that date, since the model code of conduct, which had to be observed in view of the byelection, was applicable only in Ernakulam district, where Piravom is located.

But the government preferred to select a date after the bypoll for the budget presentation. He said the Cabinet had met on Thursday night to discuss the issue. The decision is to wait till March 19. The schedule of the budget session would be fixed and announced later, the Finance Minister said.

He said the Cabinet had, before the announcement of the byelection on Thursday, sent its recommendation to the Governor to call the next Assembly session on March 1. That recommendation was still there. Article 175 of the Constitution required the Governor to address the Assembly on the first day of the first session of each year. So the Governor would address the Assembly on March 1 and there would be the specific number of days of discussion and voting following that, Mr. Mani said.

Even if the budget is delayed till March 19 or some other day immediately after that, there will be sufficient time for the government to get the budget discussed in the Assembly and complete other Constitutional obligations like passing the Appropriation Bill etc., Mr. Mani said.

“We can make use of the days in between to campaign in Piravom,” Mr. Mani said, meaning the interval between the short session of the Assembly featuring the Governor’s address on March 1 and the after-poll session in which the budget would be presented.