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Pre-Budget 'halwa ceremony' today; Why officials would be locked-up in ministry till July 5

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New Delhi, June 22: The customary pre-budget 'Halwa Ceremony' which marks the beginning of preparation and printing process of the Budget documents would be held today at the North Block in New Delhi.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would present Union Budget 2019-20 on July 5. This would be the first Budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government after returning to power for the second consecutive term.

File photo of former finance minister Arun Jaitley taking part in the ‘halwa ceremony’ ahead of the 2016 Union Budget

The Halwa Ceremony is a customary pre-budget event that formally flags off the printing of different documents associated with the Budget. It is held in the basement of Finance Ministry's office in North Block in Central Delhi, where a special printing press is located. The halwa ceremony takes place in the presence of the finance minister.

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After this ceremony, the officials who are directly involved with either the making or the printing of the Budget must stay inside the office, totally cut-off from the outer world, till the Budget is presented in Parliament. Around 100 officials are even cut off from their families till the presentation of the Budget in the Lok Sabha.

This is done to maintain the secrecy of the entire Budget process. The North Block basement is literally transformed into a fortress. To ensure that no information related to budget gets leaked, the officials are kept in absolute isolation and completely cut off from outside world till the finance minister finally presents the Budget.

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