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‘Budget allocation enough for 2 jabs to 100 cr people’

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on May 14, 2021

India started the vaccination drive from January 16

Of the ₹35,000-cr outlay, ₹4,000 crore spent in the first 45 days of FY22: FinMin

The budgetary allocation of ₹35,000 crore is sufficient to vaccinate a population of 100 crore with two doses, provided the price per shot remains at ₹150, a senior Finance Ministry official said on Thursday. According to the official, out of the Budget allocation for vaccines, over ₹4,000 crore was used in the first 45 days of the fiscal year.

“It is too early to say we will need additional funds. Still, as promised in the Budget, if required, funds will be made available. There should not be any doubt on that,” a senior Finance Ministry official told BusinessLine. On Wednesday, leaders of nine Opposition parties asked the Centre to spend the budgetary allocation of ₹35,000 crore for vaccines immediately.

Justifying the mechanism of providing funds through grant, the official said this is the best possible way. “This is out of any kind of limitations such as the Monthly Expenditure Plan or the Quarterly Expenditure Plan,” he said. He said it is basically ‘No Issue.’

The official said that the “effort is that there should not be any burden,” he said.

The vaccine procurement strategy was specifically mentioned in the affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court earlier this week. It submitted that under the new vaccine strategy, it is for each State government to procure the vaccines, while the Centre has, by conducting informal consultations with the manufacturers, ensured that the price of vaccine is uniform for all the States so to that one State does not end up paying a higher price than the other.

“Even, if we take the total spending by the States, the amount will not be so big. Your newspaper mentioned that the outer limit could be ₹48,000 crore, which appears to be reasonable. This is just 0.2 per cent of GDP and additional funds can be managed through borrowing by the States,” the official said.

On the criticism over export of vaccines, he said that it was purely demand-supply situation. “Four months ago, demand was low, supply was high. We need to remember that vaccine is not gold that can be stored for unlimited time. Every vaccine has an expiry date,” he said. Today, “It is not a finance issue, but of supply. Hopefully, that will be resolved soon.”

Published on May 13, 2021

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