Budget 2021

‘Health scheme will get more once its contours are clear’

Surabhi New Delhi | Updated on February 01, 2018

AN Jha, Expenditure Secretary   -  PTI

Provisional funding of ₹2,000 cr made for FY19, says Expenditure Secretary AN Jha

The Centre’s new flagship health cover scheme, the National Health Protection Scheme, has been given a provisional allocation of ₹2,000 crore for 2018-19, but it will be increased later when the contours of the scheme are finalised.

“Further provision of funds will be done once the details of the scheme are worked out. We will see what type of a model it will be developed on — trust or insurance company,” Expenditure Secretary AN Jha told reporters soon after the Budget was tabled in Parliament.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the new scheme, which would cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing an annual coverage up to ₹5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

“This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme,” Jaitley had said.

Incidentally, the government in the last Budget had also announced a similar scheme with an allocation of ₹1 lakh per family. It never took off. The Finance Ministry also took pains to explain that the new scheme would be different from the health insurance plan of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), which was launched by the previous UPA government in 2008.

“RSBY gave a cover of only ₹30,000 and was for a limited group of people,” Jha said, responding to a query, adding that the new scheme has a very large captive group and would function differently.

‘ Not an inflationary one’

The government also stressed that the Union Budget would not have an inflationary impact despite the increase in the minimum support price and higher cess. “There will be no serious impact on inflation from these measures,” said Economic Affairs Secretary Subshash Chandra Garg.

Explaining the rationale to levy a ₹8 per litre road cess on petrol and diesel, Chief Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry Arvind Subramanian said that it would help increase revenue gains to the Centre when oil prices increase. “State taxes on fuel also have an ad valorem component,” he pointed out.

Subramanian also said that the bond and equity markets have behaved maturely as the government has stuck to its commitment of “steadfast” fiscal consolidation despite relaxing the fiscal deficit targets. “This is a special year,” he said.

The Economic Affairs Secretary noted that the target for three per cent fiscal deficit has not been shifted to 2020-21. “This is not far way. It is only three years away,” he said.

Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the Centre is facing shortfall of ₹50,000 crore from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017-18.

Published on February 01, 2018

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