Union Budget 2018 tomorrow: 10 facts, traditions, changes to know about

The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is all set to present the Budget for 2018-19 tomorrow. The first phase of the Parliament Budget session began from January 29 and will continue till February 9. 2018 Budget session is crucial as it comes after the Modi government’s two very big financial decisions in the last couple of years- Demonetisation and implementation of GST. And also, this could be the last budget of present NDA government.

Meanwhile, now, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to present the Union Budget 2018 at 11 am tomorrow, we bring to some really interesting facts about Budgets.

  1. Ahead of the budget, the Finance Minister and other top officials take part in the halwa ceremony. The halwa ceremony is based on the tradition of having something sweet before an auspicious event.
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley at the halwa ceremony to mark the commencement of budget printing process for Union Budget 2018. PTI Photo/ PIB
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley at the halwa ceremony to mark the commencement of budget printing process for Union Budget 2018. PTI Photo/ PIB
  1. After the halwa ceremony, all government officials involved in the making of the budget are locked in North Block in a basement without mobile or internet. They can come out only after the Finance Minister presents the Budget.
  2. Finance Minister poses with a leather briefcase on the budget day before he heads to make the budget speech. The origin of the tradition of carrying a leather briefcase and maintaining the secrecy around it has been passed down by the British to us. Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain, William Ewart Gladstone, was the first one to use a red ‘budget box’ in 1860 to carry the budget papers. The Indian brown briefcase is a descendant of this colonial tradition. The first finance minister of independent India, R.K. Shanmukham Chetty, presented the country’s first budget on November 26, 1947. He was photographed with the leather bag just before entering the Parliament.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stands outside his office at North Block holding the briefcase containing the Union budget for 2017. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stands outside his office at North Block holding the briefcase containing the Union budget for 2017. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
  1. Rail Budget was presented as a separate budget until 2017. Last year, the Rail budget was merged with the Union Budget breaking a 92-year-old tradition. This Budget system was established by the British Empire and is still followed by nearly every country born from it.
Union Budget 2018 tomorrow: 10 facts, traditions, changes to know about
  1. The practice of presenting Union Budget on February 1 started in 2017. Before that, the budget used to be presented on the last day of February. The new schedule was implemented to make funds available from the starting of the financial year.
  2. The Indian Ministry of Finance consists of five departments: Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Expenditure, Department of Revenue, Department of Financial Services, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management. The officials from these departments help in the making of Union Budget.
  3. The Budget cycle lasts 12 months, from April 1st to March 31st. A Budget Circular will be issued in October or November in the budget cycle, that marks the beginning of the Budget process. The Budget of fiscal year 1973-74 is known as the “Black Budget” as the nation had a deficit of Rs 550 crore.
  4. The Finance Minister presents the Budget in Parliament with the Budget Speech. The budget speech has two parts, Part A and B. While Part A deals with the general economic survey of the country and policy decisions, Part B is about tax proposals.
  5. The printing of the Budget documents starts roughly a week before the date of the Budget presentation. The employees involved in the process are kept in complete isolation (quarantine) in the Finance Ministry during this time till the Budget is presented.
  6. India Finance Minister in the BJP-led Government Yashwant Sinha changed the practice, inherited from the British era, of announcing the Budget at 5 PM on the last working day of February to announcing the Budget at 11 AM of the last working day of February.

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