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20 interesting facts about the Budget

Last updated on: February 4, 2011 13:30 IST

20 interesting facts about the Budget

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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee became the first finance minister to present the Union Budget on either side of an election and the first to do so after a quarter-century gap, in 2009.

His last three Budgets were presented between 1982 and 1984. Mukherjee was rated as the best finance minister in the world in 1984 by Euromoney magazine.

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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Budgets have always been presented on the last day of February. So B-day is always on February 28, except on leap years when it is presented on February 29. However, last year, the Budget was presented on February 26 as 28th was a Sunday.

Of course, there are occasions when instead of a full-fledged Budget, an interim budget is presented. On occasions, a vote on account is presented in place of a Budget: this is done during an election year. The full or interim Budget, as the case may be, is presented by the new dispensation that has been voted to power.

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Image: Indian Parliament.

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R K Shanmukham Chetty presented independent India's first budget. R K Shanmukhan Chetty served as the finance minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's Cabinet between 1947-49.

On November 26, 1947 Chetty presented the first Budget of independent India. Actually, it was a review of the economy and no new taxes were proposed as the Budget day for 1948-49 was just 95 days away.

Chetty resigned in 1949 due to differences with the then prime minister Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru.

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Image: R K Shanmukham Shetty (inset).

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India has had 28 finance ministers since Independence. The word Budget was derived from the French word, bougette, which in turn is a diminutive of bouge, meaning a leather bag.

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Image: Indian Rupee notes.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The Budget is discussed in two stages in Lok Sabha. First, there is the general discussion on the Budget as a whole. This lasts for about four to five days.

Only the broad outlines of the Budget and the principles and policies underlying it are discussed at this stage. The 'Annual Financial Statement' is laid on the table of Rajya Sabha at the conclusion of the speech of the finance minister in Lok Sabha.

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Image: Indian Parliament.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The highly confidential Budget papers are printed at finance ministry's own printing press. The press at the basement of the building, becomes a forbidden area and about 30 employees of the press stay in the ministry for the last seven days to ensure foolproof secrecy.

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Image: Indian Parliament.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The finance minister is required to submit the Budget to the Parliament usually on the last working day of February so that the Lok Sabha has one month to review and modify the Budget proposals.

The Budget proposed by the finance minister comes into effect after parliamentary discussion on the Budget has been completed by April 1.

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Image: Indian Parliament.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Indira Gandhi has been India's only woman finance minister for a year from 1970 to 1971.

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Image: Indira Gandhi.

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Morarji Desai was the longest serving finance minister. Desai was FM for five years under Nehru and three years under Indira Gandhi.

Morarji Desai presented two Budgets on his birthday, February 29, in 1964 and 1968.

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Image: Morarji Desai.

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C D Deshmukh was the first Indian Governor of the Reserve bank of India to have presented the Interim Budget for 1951-52.

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Image: C D Deshmukh (inset).

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Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Indian prime minister to present the Budget when he was in charge of the finance ministry in 1958-59.

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Image: Jawaharlal Nehru.

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Many Indian finance ministers later became prime ministers. Morarji Desai, was twice the finance minister of India -- 1959-64 and 1967-70. He served as the prime minister from 1977 to 1979. Chaudhary Charan Singh became the prime minister in late 1979, having held the finance portfolio earlier the same year.

V P Singh was finance minister from 1985 to 1987 and prime minister from 1989 to 1990.

India's first prime minister (1947-64) Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had also held the finance portfolio from 1958 to 1959.

Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh too held the finance portfolio.

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Image: High-profile finance ministry.

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Two finance ministers, Yashwant Sinha and Manmohan Singh have presented 5 budgets in a row.

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Image: A sand sculpture of Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Reuters.
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R Venkataraman was India's finance minister from 1980-82. He later served as President of India from 1987-1992.

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Image: R Venkataraman.

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Yashwant Sinha has the distinction for maximum rollbacks in the Union Budget that presented in 2002, he went back on at least five budget proposals.

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Image: Yashwant Sinha.

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Rajiv Gandhi presented the budget for 1987-88 after V P Singh quit his government.

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Image: Rajiv Gandhi.

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Manmohan Singh, in his annual budgets from 1992-93, liberalised the economy, encouraged foreign investments and reduced peak import duty from 300 plus per cent to 50 per cent.

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Image: Manmohan Singh.

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Until 2000, the Union Budget was announced at 5 pm on the last working day of the month of February.

This practice was inherited from the British, when their Parliament would pass the budget in the noon followed by India in the evening of the day. Yashwant Sinha changed the timing to 11 a.m.

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Image: Yashwant Sinha.

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The Union Budget of India for the year 1997-98, presented on February 28, 1997 by the Finance Minister P Chidambaram, was hailed as a 'Dream Budget'.

The budget unveiled a road map for economic reforms in India. Chidambaram lowered income tax rates, got rid of the surcharge on corporate tax and reduced corporate tax rates.

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Image: P Chidambaram.

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Budget papers began to be prepared in Hindi from 1955-56.


Image: Amul advertisement on Budget.

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