The Halwa ceremony, which marks the final stage of Union Budget 2021 preparation, was held on Saturday in North Block, New Delhi. The ceremony was attended by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. At the ceremony, Sitharaman announced the launch of 'Union Budget Mobile App'. which will help stakeholders in easily accessing all information related to Budget.
Holding the Halwa ceremony has been a tradition related to Union Budget for many years. It is performed a few days before the Union Budget is presented in the Parliament. The halwa ceremony is held before the 'lock-in' process of Budget preparation begins. This year the Union Budget will be presented in paperless form for the first time. Like every year, the Union Budget 2021 will be presented on February 1, 2021.
At the Halwa Ceremony, Sitharaman was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur and Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey.
Also present for the ceremony were TV. Somanathan, Secretary, Expenditure; Tarun Bajaj, Secretary, Economic Affairs; Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary, DIPAM; Debashish Panda, Secretary, Financial Services; KV Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor; Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary (Budget); and other officials of the Finance Ministry.
PC Mody, Chairman, CBDT; M Ajit Kumar, Chairman, CBIC; among other officers and staff of the Ministry of Finance involved in the Union Budget preparation and compilation process were also present for the ceremony.
Keeping up with the paperless theme, the Finance Minister also introduced the 'Union Budget Mobile App' for "hassle-free access of Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public using the simplest form of digital convenience," said Finance Ministry. The mobile app will allow access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statment, Demand of Grants (DG), Finance Bill, etc.
"The app has a user-friendly interface with embedded features of downloading, printing, search, zoom in and out, bidirectional scrolling, table of contents and external links, etc," the ministry said. The bilingual (Hindi and English) app can be downloaded from the official Union Budget Web Portal. The app has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the guidance of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).
The Union Budget 2021 documents will be made available on the app once Sitharaman completes her Budget speech in the Lok Sabha on February 1.