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FIRST PAPERLESS BUDGET


February 1st, a well known date, when the Finance Minister commences the presentation of the budget for the financial year. On Monday, February 1st 2021, her speech lasted for 1 hour 40 minutes – a big reduction from her previous 2 hour 40 minute speech in 2020. The budget encompassed six sectors under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat namely health and well being, innovation and R&D, reinvigorating human capital, physical & financial capital & infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, Minimum Govt & Maximum Governance and finance Minister has also focused on asset monetization, fiscal deficit etc. Amid the farmer’s protest and Covid – 19 pandemic, Budget 2021 focused on healthcare and agriculture. Budget was presented which is expected to provide relief to the pandemic-hit common man as well as focus more on driving economic recovery amid rising tensions with neighbors.


This was the first time since independence that the budget papers will not be printed in the wake of the deadly covid pandemic. Earlier, the budget used to get printed in the in-house press of the finance ministry in the North block where around 100 employees had to stay together for almost 15 days till the papers were printed, sealed and delivered. Due to the increased number of covid-19 cases and to promote digitalization, this exercise was discarded and soft copies of the budget were distributed to all the members of the Parliament. This will also prove to be ecofriendly and cost and time effective. The center received permission for the same from both the houses of parliament.



This is not the first time that a change has been initiated in the presentation of the budget under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Last year, she did away with a colonial – era tradition of carrying budget papers in a briefcase, and introduced the Budget ‘Bahi Khata’ or a ledger which is enclosed in a red cloth folder and tied with a string.

As the world is progressing towards an era of digitalization, we need to adapt to the changes around us and enhance our methods. In line with this statement, the ministry of finance has also launched an app called Union Budget App which will enable the general public and members of Parliament smooth access to all the budget related information and the 14 union budget documents. These documents will include information about the Annual Financial Statement, Finance Bill, Demand for Grants (DG) etc. This will improve transparency and make the information easily accessible to everyone.


-BY KHYATI & ARBAZ

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