New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the sixth Finance Minister in independent India to present five consecutive Budgets, joining a select league of legends.
Sitharaman’s Budget for the fiscal year starting April 2023 is her fifth straight since 2019.
Other Ministers who have presented five straight annual financial statements include Arun Jaitley, P. Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Morarji Desai.
After taking charge of the Finance Ministry in the Narendra Modi Government in 2014, Jaitley presented five Budgets in a row from 2014-15 to 2018-19. It was in 2017, that Jaitley departed from the colonial-era tradition of presenting Budget on the last working day of February to 1st of the month.
Piyush Goyal, who was holding the additional charge of the Ministry due to ill health of Jaitley, presented the interim Budget or vote on account for 2019-20. After the 2019 general elections, in the Modi 2.0 Government, Sitharaman was given the Finance portfolio.
Under Sitharaman, India has weathered the devastating COVID-19 pandemic with an array of policy measures announced for the poor and continued its tag of the fastest growing major economy and a ‘bright spot’ in world economy.
In 2019, Sitharaman became the second woman to have presented the Budget after Indira Gandhi, who had presented the Budget for the financial year 1970-71. That year, Sitharaman did away with the traditional Budget briefcase and instead went for a ‘bahi-khata’ with the National Emblem to carry the speech and other documents.
Coveted club of five Budgets in a row
Jaitley’s predecessor and Congress’ P. Chidambaram in the UPA Government had presented five Budgets in a row from 2004-05 to 2008-09. In the BJP-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government, Yashwant Sinha as Finance Minister presented the interim and final Budgets for 1998-99. After the general elections in 1999, Sinha presented four Budgets — 1999-2000 to 2002-03.
It was under Sinha that the time for presentation of the Budget was changed to 11 am from 5 pm. During Narasimha Rao Government, Dr. Manmohan Singh was given charge of the Finance portfolio and he presented Budgets from 1991-92 to 1995-96. Singh’s 1991-92 Budget with a host of economic reforms to liberalise the economy, gave a new direction to India.
Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai who holds the tag of presenting 10 Budgets — the maximum number by any Finance Minister — had presented five of them in a row. The five annual Budgets were presented from 1959-60 to 1963-64 during his stint as Finance Minister.