Mitali Nikore, is an Independent Economist and Founder of Nikore Associates. She is also a Key member of Edumate.tv Think Tank.
One of the things I wanted to look at more closely is the health expenditure. And, you know, the finance minister in her speech talked about the increase in the overall budget for health and well being by 137%. She also talked about the Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. I want to talk about both of these things. So, when she says that there was an increase of two lakh crores or 2.2 lakh crores in that sense was being allocated towards health and well being, there are actually four ministries which are affected or rather part of this health and wellbeing expenditure basket. The first ministry is the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which includes the Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Health Research. The second is the Ministry of Ayush and the third is the Ministry of drinking water and sanitation. So, because of increases across these three ministries, it is being, sort of packaged together and it’s being said clearly that there is a allocation of 2.2 lakh crores towards health and well being when you clump the expenditures of these ministries. Now, the budget of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare rather more specifically the Department of Health and Family Welfare has increased from 65,000 crores to 71,000 crores. So, the actual increase in the budget of the Ministry of Health is essentially just around six to 7000 crores that’s the first point you know, which had been noted.
The second is the bulk of the increase when it comes to this entire expenditure of health and well being comes on account of COVID vaccination 35,000 crores has been specifically allocated by the government for the vaccination of the 330 crore health workers and frontline workers in phase one of the COVID vaccination which has been pointed out several times and 35,000 crores has been allocated for this. So, bulk of the increase over the years you know of this 2.2 lakh crore which has been pointed out and this 137% increase, which has been pointed out comes from the COVID vaccination which is an essential expenditure which had to be made because, of course, the government is stepping up and providing free vaccination to healthcare workers and frontline workers.
The other big area of increase is actually coming from the budget of the Department of drinking water and sanitation, where additional grants have been given for water and sanitation and for health. And the Jal Jeevan Mission of drinking water of providing drinking water to every home in rural and urban areas has been launched and a large budget has been given there. So you know, let’s not get too bogged down into this 137 percent increase etc. It’s actually not for the Ministry of Health, the bulk of this increase is going towards sanitation and towards drinking water. Not that those two are not important. They’re extremely important and very interlinked with the entire communicable disease and prevention of communicable disease agenda and improvement of sanitation in particular. But let’s not get confused that, that is actually an increase of the Ministry of Health’s budget. That’s not it’s actually a completely different scheme. So this is just to break down what are the big components of this 137% increase that she talked about in her speech. The first is called vaccination. The second is the Jal Jeevan Mission. And apart from that small increases in the budget of the Ministry of Irish and small increases and the Ministry of Health, so this is the overall increase in a nutshell.