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15 Lesser-known Facts about the Union Budget of India

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be presenting his sixth consecutive Budget on 1 February 2019. The question that pundits are asking is whether this will be an interim budget in which case it becomes a boring “Vote on Account” ritual wherein the government will list out the expenses that it is going to incur till General elections are held a few months from now and seek the approval of parliament. It could also be more than an interim budget and include a detailed estimate of expenses and receipts like a full budget that lists out other major proposals for farmers and tax benefits for the middle class and contains policy statements.

It may also be a subtle hint to the people of India that the government is confident of getting a decisive mandate from them and pushing ahead with reforms at the same pace as it has done in the last five years. If one were to go by the indications the Government is giving the print, electronic and social media, speculations are that the government will present a full budget and announce the usual sops & benefits to individuals and industry alike.

The Finance Ministry has however begun the budgetary exercise for the new fiscal 2019-20 in October of last year itself. It has held meetings with different ministries like steel, power, and housing and urban development, to finalize revised expenditure for the current fiscal and projections for the next financial year. The finance ministry usually imposes restrictions on media from December, into the North Block, where it is located.

The following are some interesting facts about the Union Budget:

  1. The origin of Budget is derived from the French word “Bougette” meaning leather Bag.
  2. Finance minister RK Shanukham Chetty presented the first ever Budget for Independent India on 26 November 1947. It was only a review of the economy and no new tax changes were proposed as the day of budget presentation for the next financial year was less than 100 days away. Shanmukham Chetty, in fact, used the word “Interim Budget” for the first time.
  3. Finance Minister John Mathai presented the first Budget after India became a Republic on 28 February 1950.
  4. In keeping with the Indian tradition to start an important event or function with some sweet, ten days before the budget is presented a Halwa ceremony is performed. The entire finance ministry officials including those involved with the printing process are served with halwa. The officials and employees are kept in complete isolation from the rest of the world until the Budget is presented to maintain secrecy.
  5. The Budget of 1973-74 was called the “Black Budget” as it had a deficit of Rs 550 crores
  6. The 1997-98 budget called the “Dream Budget” because it contained major reforms was presented by P. Chidambaram.
  7. Morarji Desai holds the record of presenting the maximum number of financial budgets at ten, followed by P. Chidambaram who presented it nine times and former president Pranab Mukherjee who presented the budget 8 times.
  8. Morarji Desai also holds the record for presenting the Budget on his Birthday. In fact, he presented the Budget twice on 29 Feb 1964 and 29 Feb 1968 on his birthday.
  9. Indira Gandhi is the only woman to hold the position of a finance minister till date. She took over the finance ministry after Morarji Desai resigned from the government in 1969.
  10. The 1998-99 budget was passed without any debate as there was a constitutional crisis where the then I.K. Gujral government was about to be dissolved. A special session of the parliament was called to pass the budget.
  11. Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha changed the tradition of announcing the budget to 11 AM in the morning from 5 pm in the evening in 1999.
  12. Initially, the Budget papers used to be printed in the Rashtrapati Bhavan and shifted to Minto Road in New Delhi after the Budget papers were leaked. Since 1980 though, the Budget papers are printed in the government press at North Block.
  13. In 2016, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley merged the railway budget with the general budget for the first time in 92 years.
  14. In 2017, present finance minister changed the date of budget presentation to 1 February from the last day of February to allow enough time for the budget changes to be implemented.
  15. The finance minister presents a finance bill and appropriation bill with the union budget. Both these bills are required to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha both before it gets implemented from 1st April ever year.

Let us keep our fingers crossed and see if the interim Budget will have any such interesting facts!

About the Author:

Vasant G Hegde is a post graduate in Economics and a Certified Associate in IIB and a Chartered Financial Analyst. He joined Indian Overseas Bank as a Probationary Officer in 1984 and has extensive knowledge and experience of nearly two decades in Banking Industry. He has also worked in the Insurance and Mutual Fund Industry and has ample knowledge and understanding of BFSI Industry.

He has been working as Assistant Professor with Manipal Academy of Banking since November 2012 and is currently with Axis Vertical and teaches Economics, Financial Planning, and Banking subjects. He has also been mentoring students in NISM Exams and their stint during the internship. The name of the in-house Magazine “Manidarpana “suggested by him was accepted out of many names suggested by the staff of MAB. He writes on matters relating to Finance and 25 of his articles have been published in dailies like Deccan Herald and Prajavani.

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