FM Sitharaman serves ‘halwa’ to commence printing of FY21 Budget documents

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Jan 20, 2020

FM Sithraman serves ‘Halwa’ to commence printing of FY 21 budget documents

Printing of Budget 2020-21 documents began on Monday with the ‘halwa’ ceremony inside the North Block on Raisina Hill in New Delhi. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget for financial year 2020-21 on February 1.

To maintain secrecy of the Budget proposals, there is a ‘lock-in’ of the officials involved in preparing the Budget. The Budget Press, situated inside North Block, houses all officials involved in the work leading to the presentation of the Union Budget. Around 100 officers and staff will be allowed to contact their near and dear ones only after the Budget is presented by the Union Finance Minister in Parliament on Saturday, February 1.

The press, where the documents are getting printed, has the best machines and highly-skilled technicians. This press started printing the Budget documents in 1980. Prior to that, from 1950 to 1980, the Budget documents used to be printed in the Government Press located at Minto Road near Connaught Place in Central Delhi. Till 1950, a press in Rashtrapati Bhawan held the mandate to print the Budget documents.

From now till presentation of the Budget, the printing press will be under very tight security. Even the Finance Minister, her deputy or Secretaries and some key officials will need a special pass to enter the press. Only these set of people will have permission to enter and exit as and when required, and that too, without a mobile phone or any other externally-connected communication device. In the night before presentation of the Budget, selected officials from the Press Information Bureau will be given access to the Budget documents to prepare press releases; they will be housed in the North Block for the night.

There are high expectations from Budget FY21, as the Indian economy is passing through a prolonged slowdown. The rate of growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has slowed to 5 per cent during the current fiscal, the slowest pace after 2008. Even nominal GDP growth rate (without adjusting for inflation) is estimated to be at a 42-year low of 7.5 per cent. There is a feeling that growth will improve next fiscal, but still, it would not be more than 6 per cent.

There are widespread expectations that the Budget will focus on boosting consumption by putting more money in the hands of the people. This could be done by rejigging income tax slabs and rates. There is also a hope that the government might do away with the dividend distribution tax (DDT) to meet long-pending demands of the corporate sector and the investor community.

Published on January 20, 2020
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