Kicking off the countdown to the Union Budget on February 1, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur participated in the 'Halwa ceremony' on Monday. Held at the Finance Ministry in the North Block, the ceremony marks the beginning of printing of documents relating to Union Budget 2020-21. The crucial union budget will be Sitharaman's second budget after the post-election budget presented in July 2019.
Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at 'Halwa Ceremony' being held at Ministry of Finance, North Block, to mark the beginning of printing of documents relating to Union Budget 2020-21. pic.twitter.com/WnCt9Hm4Ws— ANI (@ANI) January 20, 2020
Around 10 days or so before the documents connected to the Budget are printed, a halwa (pudding) is cooked in a large vessel and distributed to officials directly associated with the Budget. Following this ceremony, officials are locked in the North Block, cut off from the outside world and are let out only before the actual presentation begins in the Parliament. A mobile phone jammer is installed inside the Finance Ministry to prevent the leakage of information.
They are not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail. Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to go home. The ceremony of making Halwa is connected to the tradition of having something sweet before carrying out an auspicious task.
The country is gearing for the Union budget which has been promised to be 'pro-people', heavy investment in areas like infrastructure, renewable, railways, agriculture, irrigation, mobility, health, water, and digital sector to be presented on February 1. Amid the heavy backlash felt by the government from Opposition and the public for the dip in GDP to 4.5% in the last quarter, the Centre aims to boost demand and revive the economy- introducing tax cuts and tapping the Central Bank RBI for an interim dividend to meet its expenditure commitments amid severe revenue shortfall, as per reports. Currently, the Indian economy is witnessing the slowest growth in almost seven years of 4.5% and is expected to fall next quarter before reviving.