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1-min read

Countdown to Union Budget 2019 Begins as Printing Process of Documents Starts

The customary tradition of the ‘halwa ceremony’ took place over the weekend in the North Block in Delhi to mark the beginning of printing of documents related to the Union budget 2019.

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Updated:June 24, 2019, 10:03 AM IST
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Countdown to Union Budget 2019 Begins as Printing Process of Documents Starts
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is perhaps ready with her first union budget to be presented on July 5. The customary tradition of the ‘halwa ceremony’ took place over the weekend in the North Block in national capital of Delhi to mark the beginning of printing of documents related to the Union budget 2019.

The halwa ceremony ritual sees the finance minister serving the sweet to officers and staff of the finance ministry.

The occasion is extremely significant since it also marks the start of the ‘lock-in’ period for the staff to maintain secrecy regarding the budget. After the sweet dish is served, nearly 100 officials and support staff who are directly associated with process of making and printing budget papers are required to stay in the ministry and remain cut off from their families till the presentation of the final budget speech by the minister in the Lok Sabha. They are not even allowed to contact their families or near and dear ones through any form of communication during this period.

Mobile phone jammers are installed to block phone calls. Internet connections of staff and senior officials are cut. Phone calls made through landlines installed are closely monitored.

Elaborate lodging and food arrangements are made for the officials. In case of a personal emergency, the person concerned will be taken to a room where he is allowed to make calls in the presence of an intelligence officer.

Visitors and mediapersons don’t get the regular access to the ministry office. Delhi police officials and Intelligence Bureau officials are deployed to maintain strict vigil. Security personnel guard the exit and entry points of the finance ministry.

Only the finance minister has the right to enter and exit the protected zone, but that too without a cell phone.

Interestingly, until 1950, budget papers were printed inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, a leak that year led to the shifting of printing venue to a government press at Minto Road in Delhi. Since 1980, the printing of budget papers is taking place in the basement of the North Block that reportedly houses two printing presses.

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