New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday kicked off the countdown to the Union Budget on February 1 by joining the 'Halwa' ceremony and with this the the Budget paper printing starts under utmost secrecy.
Sitharaman, MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur participated in the 'Halwa' ceremony on Monday, which was held at the Finance Ministry in the North Block.
The ritual marks the beginning of printing of documents relating to Union Budget 2020-21. She will be presenting her second budget after the post-election budget presented in July 2019.
All finance ministry secretaries, CBDT, CBIC chiefs and other key officials involved with the Budget and staff were part of the Halwa event.
The Union Budget is expected to see investment in infrastructure, renewable energy, railways, agriculture, irrigation, mobility, health, water, when it will be presented on February 1.
As the GDP growth dipped to 4.5 per cent in the last quarter, the government aims to boost demand and revive the economy and how it will be done, remains to be seen.
The Finance Ministry's annual tradition is observed a few days before the Budget presentation. The "halwa" (dessert), prepared in a huge iron vessel, is served to all the ministry staff, as well as to the Finance Minister.
After the ceremony, the employees who are involved in the Budget-making process are escorted to the basement of the North Block for a 10-day quarantine and they only come out once the Finance Minister presents the Budget in Parliament.
This is done to ensure that there are no leaks of information about the Union Budget before its presentation.