The customary Halwa ceremony, marking the final stage of the Budget-making process, was held in North Block here today afternoon in the presence of Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The event also marked the launch of the Union Budget Mobile App, a platform that provides easy and quick access to budget-related information to all stakeholders.
The Halwa ceremony is performed every year before the "lock-in" process of Budget preparation begins.
In an unprecedented initiative, Union Budget 2021-22 will be delivered on February 1 in paperless form for the first time, a government press release said today.
The decision to go paperless was taken as the printing process requires several people to stay at the press for around a fortnight. Over 100 people usually stay at the basement of North Block till the annual budget is presented. It cannot happen this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. While the Halwa ceremony was also expected to be cancelled, the government went on with it.
The new mobile budget app launched by Finance Minister Sitharaman, meanwhile, ensures hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament and the general public using the simplest form of digital convenience, the release said.
It facilitates complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants, Finance Bill etc, as prescribed by the Constitution.
The budget documents, which will be uploaded on to the app minutes after the completion of the Finance Minister's Budget Speech on February 1, will be available in both English and Hindi languages on both Android and iOS platforms. The app can be downloaded from Union Budget Web Portal (www.indiabudget.gov.in).