The sudden briefing by the ministry, which has barred entry of journalists without appointment with officials after the Union Budget on July 5, triggered excitement and the small hall at the National Media Centre was full when the officials gathered to talk to the media.
Three senior officials from the ministry and the chief economic adviser were present to talk to the media.
The reporters were told that the ministry will hold weekly briefings on different issues linked to the finance ministry every Thursday, something similar to the briefings by the ministry of external affairs. The spokesperson conducting the briefing made it clear that the officials will read out a statement and will take no questions.
If the reporters had any question, they should email them to the ministry. They were also told that officials might consider taking questions and television cameras could also be allowed based on how briefings proceed over the weeks.
The “new ground rules” triggered unease among reporters, who requested the officials to take questions as it was a normal news briefing. After a brief discussion among themselves, the chief economic adviser stepped out of the room to make a call.
The officials waited for instructions on whether questions can be taken. After waiting for some time, a majority of reporters left and the officials finally read out the statement to two reporters present in the room.