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Interesting Facts About the Union Budget

Union Budget Facts


The word ‘Budget’ is derived from the French word ‘Bougette' which literally means a 'small bag' or a ‘pouch’.

The first-ever Budget in pre-independent India was presented by James Wilson who was appointed as the Finance Minister of the India Council that advised the Indian Viceroy. He presented India’s first Budget in 1860.  He was a Scottish businessman, acknowledged for his understanding of business and finance and was the founder of the well-known magazine, The Economist, as well as that of the Standard Chartered bank. He was a member of the British Parliament and the Finance Secretary to the UK Treasury as well as the Vice President of the Board of Trade.

10 Interesting Facts of Union Budgets in India

  1. Independent India’s first annual Budget was presented by R.K. Shanmukham Chetty on February 28, 1948, three months after his interim stock-taking of the country’s financial and economic position on November 26, 1947. The interim Budget was effective for barely four months.

    There have been three occasions so far when a Prime Minister has presented the Union Budget. Pandit Jawaharlal Lal Nehru did so in 1958. Then in 1970, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi presented the Budget, followed by Rajiv Gandhi in 1987.
  2. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds the record of delivering the longest Budget speech in 2020 - 2 hours and 42-minutes long. She is also the first full-time female finance minister of India.
  3. For the first time in India's history, the Budget went paperless in 2021.
  4. The fame of tabling the maximum number of Budgets goes to Former Finance Minister Moraji Desai who presented it a record 10 times, followed by P. Chidambaram (9), Pranab Mukherjee and Yashwant Sinha (8 each), and Manmohan Singh (6).
  5. The Budgets were always presented at 5pm in India. The practice first started so that the Budget papers could be tabled in the British Parliament as well at same in London. Somehow, it was not until 1999 when the Budget was presented at 11am by the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. His Budget next year was hailed as ‘The Millennium Budget’ for setting the Indian IT sector on a growth path that hasn’t looked back since.
  6. Year 2017 marked two major changes related to the Union Budget. The date of presentation of the Budget was moved to February 1 from February 28. This was done to ensure that all Parliamentary approvals for allocation of funds to various projects of the government are in place before the start of the financial year that starts April 1. Earlier, the date being February 28 and with just a month to go for the new financial year to start, some approvals would still be lacking. This was also the year when the Railway Budget was merged into the Union Budget.
  7. The 1997-98 Budget presented by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram remains etched in memory as the 'Dream Budget' for lowering the personal income tax rates. Since then, barring a few tweaks here and there, those rates have remained unchanged.
  8. Manmohan Singh’s 1991 Budget is the most historic Budget in independent India’s history. It liberalized the Indian economy, unshackling it from the licence-permit-quota raj. It set India on a high growth path and opened the Indian companies to foreign competition.
  9. Every year, about a week before the finance minister presents the Budget, a ‘halwa ceremony' is held. A 'halwa' is prepared and then served at the venue where the Budget is printed. The finance minister and all key officials in the finance ministry are present at the ceremony that denotes the start of something auspicious. The ceremony marks the commencement of a ‘lock-in’ period for officials before the Budget papers go into printing. Till the Budget is presented, all the officials involved in the printing of the Budget are locked inside the finance ministry premises, with no access to the outside world or any communication device.
  10. The Budget was leaked in 1950, following which the government shifted the printing of the Budget to a press at Minto Road from Rashtrapati Bhawan. In 1980, it was shifted to a government press in finance ministry’s basement, located in North Block on Delhi’s Raisina Road.