Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur during 'Halwa' ceremony | Photo: PTI
New Delhi: The Halwa ceremony, marking the final stage of the Budget making process, was held in North Block on Saturday afternoon in the presence of Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
A customary Halwa ceremony is performed every year before the "lock-in" process of the Budget preparations gets underway. This normally happens around middle of January when the exercise to finalise and print budget details starts in the basement of North Block. This year, as the budget is going paperless, the ceremony got delayed since the need for lock-in is not required.
The Union Budget 2021-22 is to be presented on February 1.
The Halwa is prepared in a large utensil in the presence of Finance Ministry officials, including ministers, and sharing the sweet dish is considered auspicious before starting any good work. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was question mark over the ceremony this year.
On the occasion, the Finance Ministry also launched the 'Union Budget Mobile App' for hassle-free access to Budget documents by the MPs and the general public using the simplest form of digital convenience.
The app facilitates complete access to 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.
The Budget documents will be available on the app after the completion of the Budget speech by the Finance Minister on February 1.
At the Halwa ceremony, Sitharaman was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs Anurag Singh Thakur; A.B. Pandey, Finance Secretary & Secretary (Revenue); T.V. Somanathan, Secretary, Expenditure; Tarun Bajaj, Secretary, Economic Affairs; Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary, DIPAM; Debashish Panda, Secretary, Financial Services; K.V. Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor; Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary (Budget) and other officials of the Finance Ministry.
Later, Sitharaman reviewed the status of the compilation of the Union Budget 2021-22 and extended her best wishes to the officials concerned.