On February 1, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her sixth straight Union budget, the last annual financial statement of the Narendra Modi government’s second term. On January 24, the traditional pre-budget ‘halwa’ ceremony was held, marking the final stage of the preparation process of what will be an interim budget, as the government faces a general election this year, in April-May.

New Delhi, Jan 24 (ANI): Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Halwa ceremony as the final stage preparations for the Interim Union Budget 2024 commences, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

The full budget (for FY24-25) will be unveiled in July by the incoming government, whether new or re-elected. In India, a financial year begins on April 1, ending on March 31 the following year.

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Meanwhile, officials involved in budget preparation have entered the ‘lock-in period’ to maintain the confidentiality of the final document, and will come out only after the budget presentation has concluded.

Here’s a look at some key people in ‘team budget’

Nirmala Sitharaman: A senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she is India’s first full-time female finance minister, having previously been the first full-time woman defence minister. A Rajya Sabha member (from Karnataka), Sitharaman will become only the second finance minister to deliver six straight budgets (after Morarji Desai).

TV Somanathan: The finance secretary is a 1987 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre. Somanathan, who was earlier in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), has authored two books, in addition to publishing more than 80 papers and articles on economics.

Ajay Seth: The secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), is also a 1987 batch IAS officer, and comes from the Karnataka cadre. Last year, he served as the officer in-charge of the finance track of the G20 bloc. In September 2023, India hosted the G20 summit for the first time.

Tuhin Kanta Pandey: The secretary, DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) is a 1987 batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre. Pandey is known for leading the efforts to privatise Air India, and the initial public offering (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).

Sanjay Malhotra: The revenue secretary is a 1990 batch bureaucrat from the Rajasthan cadre. Malhotra previously headed the Department of Financial Services.

Vivek Joshi: One of the newest in the group of top advisors to the FM on budget, Joshi joined the finance ministry in November 2022 as secretary, Department of Financial Services. He is a 1989 batch IAS officer from the Haryana cadre.

V Anantha Nageswaran: The chief economic advisor (CEA) is said to be one of the ‘closest advisors’ to Sitharaman on issues related to the economy. As CEA, Nageswaran is also responsible for the Economic Survey, which is released ahead of budget, though the exercise is being skipped this year as the budget will be interim.

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