Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s office on Tuesday refuted allegations that journalists were refused entry into her ministry’s offices housed in the North Block. This came after multiple reports said that Sitharaman had restricted the entry of media persons.

In a statement, Sitharaman’s office said that a procedure has been put in place to streamline the entry of journalists to the finance ministry’s offices and that there has been no ban in this regard. However, she said that journalists, including those accredited by the Press Information Bureau, will be able to enter only after prior appointments with government officials. “No other restrictions have been imposed on their entry inside MOF, North Block,” the statement read.

The statement also said that it was on the request of journalists that the finance minister has now made “adequate arrangements” outside gate No. 2 in North Block. The arrangement includes an air-conditioned waiting room for journalists where at regular intervals water, tea and coffee will be served. “Facilities for comfortable seating and charging of electronic equipment have also been provided,” the statement added.

These procedures, the ministry claimed, were part of an overall effort to make reporting for journalists “hassle free and convenient”.

This was for the first time that such restrictions have been imposed, ThePrint reported on Monday. Journalists accredited by the PIB were, otherwise, allowed to freely enter offices of all ministries and departments, except those of defence ministry and external affairs.

Nirmala Sitharaman was defence minister till May, when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was re-elected.