Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget 2022-23 in a paperless format, just like last year.

Sitharaman was seen carrying a tablet kept inside a red coloured cover with a golden coloured national emblem embossed on it, instead of the briefcase or ‘bahi khata’.

In a historic move, the Union Budget 2021 was presented in a digital format for the first time to promote the Government of India’s (GoI) Digital India flagship programme. This is being seen as an attempt to go green and also to minimise physical contact amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sitharaman in 2019, ditched the longstanding tradition of carrying a briefcase and went ‘Swadeshi’ to replaced the briefcase with the traditional ‘bahi khata’, saying that the Modi-government was not a ‘suitcase-carrying government.’

Sitharaman was accompanied by MoS Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Karad and other officials from her ministry. Sitharaman is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind before presenting the budget at 11 am today.

Providing digital access

The Central government last year launched the ‘Union Budget Mobile App’ to enable Members of Parliament (MPs) and common people to access Budget documents digitally. The Union Budget 2022 -23 would also be made available on the mobile app after the Budget is presented on February 1 in Parliament.

The App facilitates complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG) and Financial Bill as prescribed by the Constitution.

The word ‘Budget’ originates from the French word Bougette, meaning leather briefcase. The tradition of carrying the Budget briefcase was a copy of the ‘Gladstone box’, used in the British Budget.

In 1860, the then British budget chief William E Gladstone used a red suitcase with Queen’s monogram embossed in gold to carry his documents, which came to be known as the ‘Gladstone Box’.

In 1947, India’s first Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty carried a leather portfolio to present the first Budget.

Before Nirmala Sitharaman, a long standing tradition in connection with the Budget presentation was broken during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government with the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presenting the Budget at 11 am instead of the traditional time of 5 pm. In the first, this year, there was no customary ‘halwa ceremony’ amid Covid-19 curbs.