New Delhi: The General Budget for the year 2019-20 has stoked a lot of interest for various reasons. It is going to set the tone for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second inning and with a number of reports puncturing India’s statistics on GDP growth and job creation, it is being hoped that it will spell out how the government intends to steer the economy in troubled waters.
Preparations for presenting the budget have already begun. But did you know that there’s a strict protocol that’s followed by the Finance Ministry in the run-up to the presentation of the Budget? One that involves a lock-in of officials? Yes, you heard that right.
The halwa ceremony
On Saturday, as the printing process for the budget commenced, a halwa ceremony was organised in North Block to mark the occasion. This is a customary practice that is followed every year. At the ceremony, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur; Finance Secretary SC Garg, Revenue Secretary AB Pandey, Secretary DFS Rajiv Kumar, and DIPAM Secretary Atanu Chakraborty, among others.
The lock-in period
To maintain secrecy ahead of the presentation of the Budget, there is a “lock-in” of the officials involved in making the Budget. Budget press, which is situated in North Block, houses all the officials for at least 10 days in the period leading up to the presentation of the Union Budget. These officers and staff gain touch with their near and dear ones only after the Budget is presented by the Union Finance Minister in Parliament.