Union Budget 2023-24: Government holds customary ‘Halwa’ ceremony, marking final stage of Budget preparation


NEW DELHI: Kickstarting the countdown towards Union Budget 2023-24, the ministry of finance on Thursday conducted its customary ‘Halwa’ ceremony in presence of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to mark the beginning of compilation of budget documents.
The ceremony was conducted today after in the North Block, the government said in an official release.
It was attended by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, ministers of state (MoS) finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Dr Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad.
A customary ‘Halwa’ ceremony is performed every year before the lock-in process of Budget preparation begins.
Like the previous two Union Budgets, Union Budget 2023-24 will also be delivered in paperless form, the release said.
Finance secretary TV Somanathan, economic affairs secretary Ajay Seth, secretary of Dipam Tuhin Kanta Pandey, revenue secretary Sanjay Malhotra, chief economic adviser (CEA) Anantha V Nageswaran, CBIC chairman Vivek Johri, and others officers and staff of the ministry of finance, involved in budget preparation and compilation process, were also present on the occasion.
As part of the ceremony, the Sitharaman also took a tour of the Budget Press and reviewed the preparations besides extending her best wishes to the officials concerned, the release said.
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.
Green budget
Continuing the tradition of presenting the budget in paperless form, Nirmala Sitharaman’s fifth budget on February 1 will also be a green one.
All the 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, will available on the “Union Budget Mobile App” for hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public using the simplest form of digital convenience.
In a historic move, the Union Budget of 2021-22 was delivered in paperless form for the first time.
In 2021, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman read her budget speech from a handheld tablet. She came to Parliament carrying the gadget inside the red-coloured ‘bahi-khata’ cloth.

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