Budget-2018 process begins with 'Halwa Ceremony': Here's all about it
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has officially kicked off the Union Budget 2018-19 process by performing the traditional pre-Budget "Halwa Ceremony" ahead of the Budget presentation on 1 February. This marked the inauguration of formal printing of all Budget-related documents. Minister of State (Finance) Shiv Pratap Shukla, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, and Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia also participated in the ceremony. Here's more.
#IndiaBudget2018 The Union Finance Minister, Shri @arunjaitley at the Halwa Ceremony with MoS(Finance), Shri @BJPShivPShukla Senior Officers at North Block in New Delhi today and thereby launching the formal printing of different documents relating to the Union Budget 2018-19. pic.twitter.com/Cq4zxgvSVS— Ministry of Finance (@FinMinIndia) January 20, 2018
The pre-Budget Halwa Ceremony follows the long Indian tradition of having something sweet before any auspicious event. This also marks the commencement of the printing process of different Budget documents. A part of this "very old" Halwa ritual, the sweet is prepared in a large quantity in a big kadhai (a wok-like deep-cooking pot). The Finance Minister serves it to the entire Ministry staff.
The significance of the Halwa Ceremony is that after the ritual, officials and staff -involved in the Budget preparation and printing process- are required to stay in the Ministry; they aren't allowed to contact their families through any form of communication like phone, texts, email, etc. They stay in the North Block until the Budget is presented in Lok Sabha by Finance Minister.
After the Halwa Ceremony and the formal printing of the Budget documents, all the documents are locked in the office so that no details go out. The Ministry officials and employees cannot go home; however, some very senior Finance Ministry officials are allowed to go home. The lock-in of documents and other practices are aimed at maintaining the secrecy of the Budget preparation.
The Union Budget 2018-19 holds great significance as this is the first budget to be presented by Arun Jaitley after the GST rollout. Also, this would be the last full-fledged Budget by the incumbent BJP-led NDA government before the 2019 General Elections.