Covid-19 affected budget, no printed documents this year | Budget document will not be printed for the first time in 73 years, Finance Minister will read speech from soft copy

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  • Members of Parliament were given two options: soft copy to all or none
  • It was not possible for the Member of Parliament, Tech Savvy, to print a limited number of copies.

Since independence (1947), Corona has also been eclipsed on the budget document which has been appearing every year. This time the documents of the budget 2021-22 are not being printed for fear of infection. The government has got the approval of both houses of parliament for this. All Members of Parliament will be provided soft copy of the budget documents this time.

In such a situation, trucks will not be seen outside the Parliament on Budget day. The printing of the Union Budget has been done every year in the printing press of the Ministry of Finance. The finance ministry said that for printing of budget documents, more than 100 people have to keep in one place for two weeks. Given Corona, the government cannot keep so many people in the printing press for so long.

There was a lot of effort to convince MPs on soft copy
According to sources, the Lok Sabha Speaker and Deputy Speaker had a lot of effort in persuading the MPs for the soft copy. There were two options regarding budget documents. All MPs should be given soft copy or none. At the same time, limited number of copies were not possible for MPs who are not Tech Savvy. It was argued that if the documents were printed, there could be a risk of corona infection in them.

Start of printing process with pudding ceremonies a fortnight ago
The Union Budget was first introduced in independent India on 26 November 1947. Its documents have been printed every year since then. The finance ministry performs halwa ceremonies every year at the beginning of the printing process of budget documents. The ceremony is held in the basement of North Block a fortnight before the Budget is presented in Parliament. Now the question is whether the pudding will be ceremonial when the budget is not printed.

3 important changes in the budget process

1. Ledger with Leather Briefcase
Finance Minister budget documents were usually carried in leather briefcases. This tradition was started by RK Shanmukham Chetty, the first Finance Minister of the country (1947–1949). In 2019 and 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took the budget documents into the traditional red ledger account.

2. Appeared at 11 am instead of 5 pm
The time when the budget was presented also changed over time. Till 1999, the budget was presented at 5 pm on the last working day of February. Yashwant Sinha, finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, changed this tradition and started presenting the budget at 11 am.

3. Railway budget also became part of general budget
In 2016, the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that from now on, the Union Budget will be presented on 1 February. Apart from this, the railway budget, being presented separately for 92 years, was included in the Union Budget.

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