Updated: January 23, 2021 6:08:46 pm
The traditional ‘halwa ceremony’ was held on Saturday at the Union Finance Ministry headquarters at North Block in New Delhi. While the ceremony marks the commencement of the budget-making and printing process, the Union Budget 2021-22 will be delivered in paperless form for the first time on February 1.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State Anurag Thakur took part in the ceremony.
The tradition, which goes back several years, involves preparing the sweet dish in a big kadhai (frying pot) and serving it to the entire staff in the ministry.
As per the tradition, after the sweet dish is served, a large number of officials and support staff, who are directly associated with the Budget making and printing process, are required to stay in the ministry and remain cut off from their families until the presentation of the Budget in the Lok Sabha.
The officials are not allowed to contact anyone through phone or any other form of communication. The “lock-in” which follows the halwa ceremony is observed to maintain the secrecy of the Budget preparation process. Only very senior officials in the Finance Ministry are permitted to go home.
Budget app launched
On the occasion, Sitharaman also launched the “Union Budget Mobile App” for hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public.
“The mobile app facilitates complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG), Finance Bill etc. as prescribed by the Constitution,” the Ministry of Finance said in a release.
“The App has a user-friendly interface with embedded features of downloading, printing, search, zoom in and out, bidirectional scrolling, table of contents and external links, etc. It is bilingual (English & Hindi) and will be available on both Android and iOS platforms,” it added.
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