No ‘halwa’ ceremony this year, says government

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NEW DELHI: The traditional ‘halwa’ ceremony, which marked the beginning of printing of budget documents, will not be conducted this year in wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the ministry of finance said on Thursday.
In an official release, the government said that instead of conducting the ceremony, sweets were provided to core staff members who will now remain in “lock-in” at their workplaces.
These officers and staff will come in contact with their near and dear ones only after the budget is presented in the Parliament.
It was annual tradition for the government to conduct the ceremony a few days before presentation of budget.
What is ‘halwa’ ceremony
As part of the Budget making ritual, ‘halwa’ is prepared in a big ‘kadhai’ (large frying pot) and served to the entire staff in the finance ministry.
The significance of the sweet dish is that after it 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.
Who all attend the ceremony
The ceremony is attended by the finance minister, secretaries in the ministry, officers of the Budget division and the two tax wings and staff members, who are locked inside the Budget press till the speech is completed. They do not even have access to their family members.
Budget to go green again this year
In a historic move, the Union Budget of 2021-22 was delivered in paperless form for the first time.
Last year, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman read her budget speech from a handheld tablet.
This year as well budget will be presented in paperless format. She came to Parliament carrying the gadget inside the red-coloured ‘bahi-khata’ cloth.
The finance minister had also lauched ‘Union Budget App’ or hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public.
This year too it will be available on the mobile app after the process of budget presentation has been completed.
The app allows complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the budget Speech, annual financial statement (commonly known as budget), demand for grants (DG), Finance Bill etc. as prescribed by the Constitution. The mobile app is bilingual (English & Hindi) and is available on both Android and iOS platforms.

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