In a first, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to present budget 2021 in paperless form
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will on Monday present the budget for the financial year 2021-22 in Parliament in a paperless format. This is for the first time that the budget, which the finance minister said will be ‘like never before’, will be delivered in a paperless form. In the previous two years, Sitharaman replaced the conventional brown briefcase and brought the budget to the Parliament in a bahi khata, a ledger wrapped in a red-coloured cloth.
The finance minister had broken away from long-standing traditions of colonial-era when she ditched the briefcase and opted for traditional bahi khata while presenting her full budget in 2019 and now she is all set to put in place another practice, in line with her party’s digital push.
Last month during the traditional halwa ceremony, Sitharaman launched 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. The mobile app facilitates complete access to 14 Union budget documents, including the annual financial statement (commonly known as Budget), demand for grants (DG), finance bill etc. as prescribed by the Constitution, the finance ministry said in a statement.
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 application, which has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the guidance of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), is bilingual (English & Hindi) and will be available on both Android and iOS platforms. It can also be downloaded from the Union Budget Web Portal (www.indiabudget.gov.in).
The budget documents will be available on the mobile app after the completion of the budget speech by the finance minister in Parliament.
The word ‘budget’ has its origin in the French word Bougette, which means leather briefcase. Traditionally, budget documents - which primarily include papers related to revenue receipt and expenditure as well as the speech of the finance minister - were carried in a brown briefcase, a legacy passed on by the British. However, traditional Indian businessmen used bahi khata to maintain their books of account.
In July 2019, Sitharaman had said that the Modi government is not a “suitcase-carrying government” while chief economic advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian had said, “The government is following Indian tradition and bahi khata symbolises our departure from the slavery of Western thought.”