COVID-19: Budget documents will not be printed this year
For the first time since 1947, the Union Budget documents will not be printed this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The printing of Budget documents has been an annual tradition since the first-ever Budget of Independent India was presented on November 26, 1947. This year, however, the Members of Parliament (MPs) will be given soft copies of the Budget. Here are more details.
The government has been given permission from both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament to not print the crucial documents this year, reports said. The Ministry of Finance said the government cannot keep over 100 people in a printing press together for two weeks, citing the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Further, many workers are involved in the process of transporting these documents.
The traditional Halwa ceremony is also unlikely to take place this year. As per that tradition, to mark the beginning of the process of printing the Budget documents, halwa is offered to the staff members. For the unversed, the printing process takes place in the basement of North Block and begins a fortnight before the presentation of Budget.
This year, around 750 Members of Parliament will get an e-version of the documents. Distribution of physical copies was already stopped for the media. Now, one can access the Budget speech and the related documents on www.Indiabudget.gov.in and www.indiabudget.nic.in, soon after Budget speech is over.
On the Budget Day, Union Finance Ministers usually carry the documents to the Parliament in a leather briefcase. However, in 2019 and 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman carried the documents in a traditional bahi khata. Sitharaman will present the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 on February 1. The Budget session of the Parliament shall commence from January 29, per reports.