Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Budget for fiscal year 2022-23 on February 1. The key financial plan for the next financial year will be presented in parliament where the government introduces several schemes and allocates expenditure.
Ahead of the crucial day, we discuss some interesting facts about the Budget.
RK Shanmukham Chetty presented the first Budget of independent India on November 26, 1947. Chetty had served as India's first finance minister from 1947 to 1948.
Morarji Desai presented 10 Budgets – the highest so far - followed by P Chidambaram (9) and Pranab Mukherjee (8). Interestingly, Desai presented the Budget twice on his birthday on February 29 – a leap year - in 1964 and 1968. Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Budget for the fourth time this year.
There have been 73 annual budgets, 14 interim budgets and four special budgets, or mini-budgets since Independence. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi are the only Prime Ministers who presented a budget.
Nirmala Sitharaman made a record in 2020 by speaking for nearly 2 hours 40 minutes – the longest Budget speech ever. With two pages left, she requested the speech be cut short as she was feeling unwell after speaking for so long. Former finance minister Arun Jaitley’s first Budget speech in 2014 was with 253 paragraphs went on for 2 hours and 10 minutes comes second. The third, fourth, and fifth spots for longest Budget speeches also belong to the late BJP veteran.
Until 2016, the Budget was presented on the last day of February until Arun Jaitley changed it to February 1 from 2017 onwards.
Nirmala Sitharaman is also India’s first full-time woman finance Minister – a position only held by Indira Gandhi as an additional charge when she was the PM.
Sitharaman also ditched the colonial tradition of carrying the Budget in a briefcase when she came in with a ‘bahi khata’ to present the key document in 2019. The documents were wrapped in a silk red cloth with the national emblem on top.
Last year, the Budget went paperless for the first time ever as Sitharaman read her speech from a tablet. The government also launched the Union Budget Mobile App for people to access the Budget on their smartphones last year. This was done keeping Covid restrictions as well a digital push in mind.
The ‘halwa ceremony’, which marked the commencement for printing the Budget document earlier has been cancelled this year keeping Delhi’s pandemic situation in mind. As the Budget went paperless, there was no printing last year - the halwa ceremony also took place nine days ahead of the presentation.