On 1 February 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first paperless Union Budget in the history of India. This is done in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Budget for the FY 2021-2022 is in line with Prime Minister’s Modi’s vision of ‘Digital India’. The Budget documents will be electronically distributed to the Members of Parliament (MPs). Recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Budget mobile app.
Here are some interesting facts on Union Budget:
1- Derivation of the word Budget: The word Budget has been derived from the French word ‘Bougette’ which means ‘small bag’.
2- Introduction of the word infrastructure: For the first 30 years, the Budget didn’t have the word infrastructure. It was introduced in the Budget in the 1900s.
3- First Union Budget of Colonial India: It was introduced on 7 April 1860 by the East India Company to the British Crown. It was presented by a Scottish Economist and politician James Wilson.
4- First Union Budget of Independent India: It was introduced on 26 November 1947. It was present by the first Finance Minister R.K. Shanukham Chetty. However, it was a review of the Indian economy and no new taxes were proposed. It is to be noted that almost 46% of the Budget or Rs. 92.74 crores were allocated for defence services department.
5- Printing of Budget: The Budget was leaked in 1950, following which the government shifted the printing of budget from Rashtrapati Bhawan to a press at Minto Road. In 1980, it was shifted to a government press in North Block.
6- Introduction of Hindi: Till 1955, the Budget was presented only in the English language. However, from 1955-56, the Budget documents are printed both in English and Hindi.
7- First Prime Minister to present the Union Budget: Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was the first PM to present the Union Budget for the FY 1958-1959. The Union Budget is usually presented by the Finance Minister. Other than Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were the only Prime Ministers to have presented the Budget in their respective administration.
8- First Woman to present the Union Budget: Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first woman to present the Union Budget for the FY 1970-71. On 5 July 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman became the first full-time woman Finance Minister on India.
9- Maximum Union Budgets by a Minister: Former Finance Minister Moraji Desai presented the Union Budget a record 10 times, followed by former FM P. Chidambaram (9), former FM Pranab Mukherjee (8), former FM Yashwant Sinha (8), and former FM Manmohan Singh (6)
10- Black Budget: For the FY 1973-74, the Budget was presented by the then Finance Minister Yashwantrao B. Chavan and is called as ‘Black Budget’ due to high budget deficit of Rs 550 crores– the maximum until that time. The Budget followed the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and failed the monsoon season.
11- The Epochal Budget: The Budget presented by the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh for the FY 1991-92 is known as ‘The Epochal Budget’– a budget that changed India forever as it marked the economic liberalisation of the nation.
12- Dream Budget: The Budget presented by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for the FY 1997-98 is known as ‘Dream Budget’ as it proposed to lower the tax slabs of personal and corporate taxes.
13- The Millenium Budget: The Budget presented by the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha for the FY 2000-01 is known as ‘The Millenium Budget’– revolutionised India’s IT sector.
14- Change in time: In the year 2001, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha changed the time for the presentation of Union Budget from 5 p.m. to 11 a.m. on the last working day of February.
15- Merging of Budgets and Change in date: In the year 2017, the Rail Budget was merged with the Union Budget. Also, since the said year, the Budget has been presented on 1 February following the changes introduced by the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
16- Gift Tax: Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the Gift Tax in the FY 1958-1959 Budget to make tax evasion more difficult.
17- Goods and Services Tax: On 28 February 2006, Goods and Services Tax was introduced by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the Budget.
18- Longest Budget speech: Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitely holds the record for delivering the longest Budget speech in 2014– 2.5 hours.
19- Bahi Khata instead of a briefcase: In the year 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replaced the standard Budget briefcase with the traditional ‘Bahi Khata’ with the National Emblem.
20- Paperless Budget: For the first time in Independent India’s history, the Budget for the FY 2021-22 is paperless.