Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Tuesday lashed out at the Centre's decision of not printing copies of the upcoming Union Budget and termed it "cheap theatre." Sharing a media report on Twitter, the former Union Minister asked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman what "what will this tokenism achieve?"
"COVID-19 count stands at 10.5 million cases -11.57% of cases worldwide, social distancing is non-existent, mask-wearing is the exception, not the norm what will this tokenism achieve," the Anandpur Sahib MP wrote.
The Budget documents will not be printed this year following the COVID-19 protocol and will instead be distributed electronically to the Members of Parliament (MPs), news agency PTI reported on Monday. This will be the first time since the presentation of independent India's first budget on November 26, 1947, that the documents containing income and expenditure statement of the Union government along with finance bill, detailing new tax and other measures for the new financial year, will not be physically printed.
Due to COVID-19, it has been decided not to print documents related to the Union Budget for the fiscal beginning April (FY 2021-22), PTI sources said. All MPs will get soft copies of the budget and Economic Survey that contains an account of the state of the economy.
The printing of documents requires staff to be locked up in the basement printing press of the Finance Ministry couple of weeks ahead of the presentation of the Budget. The printing all these years began with a 'Halwa' ceremony that marked the staff going into the basement press only to emerge after the budget is presented. "This will be the first time since independence that physical copies of Budget documents will not be shared with MPs to avoid the risk of COVID-19 infection," the sources said.
The familiar sight of trucks loaded with budget papers in Parliament on the budget day and scanning of these by security guard will also be given a miss. The Union Budget for 2021-22, the eighth Budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, is scheduled to be presented in Parliament on February 1, 2021. Sitharaman will be presenting her third full-time Budget.