With preparations of the Budget underway, the quarantine period for media will begin from January 4 and last till presentation of the Budget, most likely on February 29. A media advisory issued by Finance Ministry said, "with effect from January 4, 2016 till presentation of the Budget, media persons may be permitted in the ministry only on appointment and only in such cases where specific prior permission has been accorded by designated officers duly authorised."
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his second budget, third if the interim presentation of 2014 is counted, is likely to focus on steps to accelerate economic growth that seems to have stagnated in 7-7.5 per cent range amid global slowdown.
Media personnel with valid PIB cards are allowed to enter North Block, the seat of Finance Ministry, without a prior appointment. But during the quarantine period such entries will be barred. With Budget being guarded like the gold in Fort Knox, electronic sweeping devices are being installed and private e-mail facilities to most computers in the ministry are blocked.
Jaitley's Budget team comprises Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya. The official team is led by Finance Secretary Ratan Watal, DEA Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Disinvestment Secretary Aradhana Johri.