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Thursday 23 January 2020

Budget in works; Fin Min officials turn incommunicado

With this Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman needs to face the challenges of slowdown, bad debt, NBFC liquidity, employment, private investment, farm distress and public investment

New Delhi: The Modi 2.0 government is preparing its first Budget. To that end, officers at the finance ministry engaged in making the document have been debarred from contacting outsiders (especially the media).

The ‘ban’ or gag order will stay in effect until the Budget is presented on 5 July. In this period, visitors and the media will not be allowed to enter the finance ministry.

Before the general election, an interim Budget was presented on 1 February. The government had sanctioned the amount of expenditure for a limited period.

The new government has since assumed power. New Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is going to present a full Budget at a time when the economic growth rate has slowed down to a five-year low.

Challenges in Sitharaman’s Budget

Finance Minister Sitharaman faces the challenges of an economic slowdown, bad debts, liquidity crunch in the NBFCs, employment generation, private investment, farm distress and public investment.

The first session of the newly formed 17th Lok Sabha will run from 17 to 26 June. The Economic Review, 2019-20, will be presented on 4 July and the next day the Budget will be presented.

All in the Budget team

The Budget team of Sitharaman includes MoS Finance Anurag Singh Thakur and Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian. The official team is headed by Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg.

The team includes expenditure secretary Girish Chandra Murmu, revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DIPAM secretary Atanu Chakraborty and financial services secretary Rajiv Kumar.

Secrecy drill

To keep the entire Budget process confidential, there will be strict security arrangements in the North Block. Electronic equipment will be set up for monitoring. Most of the computers in the ministry will have email service blocked.

During the period of ‘quarantine’, security personnel will be deployed all the way to the entry or exit of the building that houses the ministry.

With the help of the Delhi Police, the intelligence bureau (IB) will keep an eye on the people entering and leaving the rooms of officers involved in the process of budgeting.

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