The secret part of budget deals with the revenue proposals, especially the indirect and direct taxes part. Much of the excitement of that secrecy is already over because we have been following a predictable path over the last several years.
Only the level of downsizing is unknown. We have reached a level where drastic reduction is not possible. We make North Block, which houses the finance ministry, out of bounds for everyone. We all go under protection of CRPF which keeps a hawk-like vigil on all visitors.
Moreover, when the revenue proposals are finalised, all drafts are done in government’s press, situated in the basement of North Block. No one can go in or come out without the permission of CRPF team including the finance minister himself. Even if I, as finance minister, will go, it will be recorded. There are only six to seven persons who know the budget and live outside North Block. They are: the finance minister, finance secretary, revenue secretary, expenditure secretary, additional secretary (budget), chief economic advisor and chiefs of two boards – Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Central Board of Excise and Customs.
We presume that all of the above are responsible people. Revenue proposals are finalised in two special rooms of the Boards. The finance minister goes to those two rooms to give directions and each person’s movement and timing are recorded with meticulous detail minimising the chances of leakage.
(As told by the former finance minister to Gautam Chikermane)
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