Budget 2024: The longest and shortest Budget speeches by Finance Ministers
3 min read • Updated: January 19, 2024, 4:04 PM
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds the record for delivering the longest budget speech in terms of duration. Manmohan Singh delivered the longest speech in terms of word count in 1991.
The Union Budget is the most important financial exercise for the government. The Budget gives a glimpse into the health of the economy, government revenue, expenditures, allocations and the fiscal policies. And for the common people the most important aspect is the announcement on taxes.
As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1, all eyes will be on her Budget speech. The Finance Minister is going to present an Interim Budget this year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The full Budget for the financial year 2024-25 is expected to be presented in July after the new government takes over.
Though FM Sitharaman has already hinted that no ‘spectacular announcement’ is expected in the Interim Budget, her budget speech will be keenly watched for big announcements.
This time, Sitharaman might just come up with a shorter-than-usual speech. A rare occurrence for her. Especially as she holds the record for delivering the longest budget speech ever, in terms of time. In 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic looming large, during the Union Budget, she spoke for an impressive two hours and 42 minutes. This remains as the longest Budget speech in the history of Parliament till date. She surpassed her own record of the longest Budget speech by any Finance Minister.
In 2019, she clocked in at 2 hours and 17 minutes. However, in a surprising turn of events in 2022, she kept it short and sweet, with only a total of one and a half hours on the mic — her shortest budget speech since she took over as the Finance Minister in 2019.
Now, if we shift our focus to the historical records, it's interesting to note that, in terms of the length of the budget speech based on word count, the record is not in the name of the incumbent Finance Minister. The crown goes to none other than former Prime Minister and the then-finance minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. His 1991 Budget speech, under then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure, weighed in at a hefty 18,650 words. A pivotal moment, this budget marked India's leap into liberalisation and scripted a new era of economic development for the country. India finally bid farewell to the infamous 'Licence Raj,' under which, for decades, the country followed a government-led economic approach, with the private sector relegated to the background. In 1991, India, reeling under an economic crisis, finally embraced the world of capitalism and competitiveness.
But let's rewind a bit further, to the Budget of 1977. Picture this: Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel takes the stage as the Finance Minister under the Morarji Desai government. This was a significant juncture in India’s political history as it followed the tumultuous Emergency period. Patel's 1977 Budget speech, delivered during an Interim Budget, was brief but impactful, containing only 800 words. It was a time when the nation sought stability and a fresh start after the challenges of the Emergency. Patel's concise approach in presenting financial plans reflected a pragmatic stance during that crucial political juncture.
So, as we eagerly await Sitharaman's 6th Budget, let's not forget the rich tapestry of budgetary tales that have shaped India's economic landscape over the years.