New Delhi: The 2020 Union Budget process kicks off officially on Monday with the customary ‘halwa’ ceremony marking the start of printing documents for the Budget.
This year the Budget will be presented at a time when growth has dropped to a six-year low amidst a persistent slowdown in the economy and the weak demand.
Besides, consumption, investment, the outlook and the targets likely to be missed for the fiscal deficit, tax revenues and disinvestment, all add up to a dismal scenario for the current fiscal.
The GDP growth too for the current fiscal ending in March is expected to be 5 per cent.
In the context of such subdued macro figures, Budget 2020-21 is expected to be taking steps to create jobs, and raise consumption and demand.
There is widespread expectation of a cut in personal income tax to push consumption.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman will be hosting the ‘halwa’ ceremony on January 20 at North Block. She will present the Union Budget on February 1.
The Finance Ministry’s annual tradition is observed a few days before the Budget presentation. The ‘halwa’ (dessert), prepared in a huge iron vessel, is served to all the ministry staff, as well as to the Finance Minister.
After the ceremony, the employees who are involved in the budget-making process are escorted to the basement of North Block for a 10-day quarantine and they only come out once the Finance Minister presents the Budget in Parliament. This is done to ensure that there are no leaks of information about the Union Budget before its presentation.