Corona effect: Budget document will not be printed for the first time in 73 years

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Pune, January 11, 2021: Since independence (1947), Corona has eclipsed the budget document which is formulated every year. This time the documents of the budget 2021-22 will not be printed due to the fear of infection. The government has received the approval of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha for this. All Members of Parliament will be provided with a soft copy of the budget documents this time.

Trucks will not be seen outside the Parliament on Budget day. The Union Budget has been printed every year in the printing press of the Ministry of Finance. The finance ministry said that for the printing of budget documents, more than 100 people have to work in a single space for two weeks. Given Corona, the government cannot allow so many people in the printing press for so long.

Only two options about the budget documents: MPs should be given a soft copy or nothing. At the same time, a limited number of copies were not possible for MPs who are not Tech Savvy. It was argued that if the documents were printed, they could risk corona infection amongst them.

A fortnight ago, the printing process began. The Union Budget was introduced in independent India on 26 November 1947. Its documents have been printed every year since then. The finance ministry performs halwa ceremonies every year at the beginning of the printing process of budget documents. The ceremony is held in the basement of North Block a fortnight before the Budget is presented in Parliament. Whether this ceremony will be followed through this year is uncertain. 

3 important changes in the budget process

1. The leather briefcase: Finance Minister’s budget documents were usually carried in a leather briefcase. This tradition was started by RK Shanmukham Chetty, the first Finance Minister of the country (1947–1949). In 2019 and 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took the budget documents into the traditional red ledger account.

2. Instead of 5 pm, the time for presenting the budget also changed with time. Until 1999, the financial budget was presented at 5 pm on the last working day of February. Yashwant Sinha, finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, changed this tradition and started presenting the budget at 11 am.

3. The Railway Budget also became part of general budget in 2016, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the Union Budget will be presented on 1 February. Apart from this, the railway budget, presented separately for 92 years, was included in the Union Budget.

160 year’s ago, the country’s first budget was presented: The country’s first budget was presented on 7 April 1860 by the British Government’s Finance Minister James Wilson. The first budget after independence was introduced by the country’s first finance minister, R.K. Shanmukham Chetty, on 26 November 1947. This budget was for the period from 15 August 1947 to 31 March 1948. The first budget post the establishment of the Indian Republic was presented by John Mathai on 28 February 1950.