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Budget 2017: FM Jaitley kicks off proceedings with traditional 'halwa' ceremony

The tradition of marking the beginning of printing documents which are part of the Union Budget has begun with the ritual of ‘halwa ceremony’. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley participated in the ceremony on Thursday at 4 pm along with other Finance Ministry officials at the North Block in New Delhi.

As part of the ritual, which has continued for long, ‘halwa’ is prepared in a big ‘kadhai’ (large frying pot) and served to the entire staff in the 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 and remain cut off from their families till the presentation of the Budget by the minister in the Lok Sabha. Only very senior officials in the Finance Ministry are permitted to go home.

Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and other officers and staff of the ministry involved with Budget preparation were also present.

Delhi: FM Arun Jaitley at ‘Halwa ceremony’ marking the beginning of Budget printing process.

— ANI (@ANI_news)

Union Finance Minister Shri @arunjaitley along with the senior officials of Ministry of Finance at the Halwa Ceremony in New Delhi today.

— Ministry of Finance (@FinMinIndia)

After Halwa Ceremony,more than 100 officials of Fin Ministry will stay in Budget Printing Press till FM @arunjaitley Budget Speech is over.

— Ministry of Finance (@FinMinIndia)

This year’s Budget, which will be the third full-fledged Budget of the present NDA government, is scheduled to be unveiled in Parliament on February 1. The ‘lock-in’ of the documents is followed by the ‘halwa ceremony’, which is observed to maintain the secrecy of the budget preparation process.

The government agreed to advance the date of the Budget to February 1 instead of holding it at the end of the month. According to PM Modi, this would let all the programs and finances start with the beginning of the financial year. An early budget would allow it to be passed by March end unlike the usual mid-May period.

The upcoming budget will also do away with the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Railway and Union Budget. From this year on, both the statements will be read out on the same day.