Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and senior officials of the ministry Saturday observed the symbolic 'Halwa' ceremony to mark the launch of formal printing of documents relating to the Union Budget 2019-20.
The NDA government would on July 5 unveil the full Budget for 2019-20. On February 1, the government had presented an Interim Budget to take Parliament nod for spending till the new government takes charge after the general elections.
Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DIPAM Secretary Atanu Chakraborty and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar too attended the customary pre-Budget event.
"Halwa ceremony marking the commencement of Budget printing process for the General Budget 2019-20 was held in North Block here today afternoon in the august presence of the Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman," a Finance Ministry statement said.
As part of the ritual, 'halwa' is prepared in a big 'kadhai' (large frying pot) and served to the entire staff in the ministry.
The significance of the event is that after the sweet dish 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 in the Lok Sabha.
They are not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail.
Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to go home.