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Great Number Game of Vaccine Funding: Zero Allotment = Rs. 35000 Crores !!!

Veeraiah Konduri 05 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:moneycontrol.com

For more than over a month since last week of April, when the Supreme Court took suo moto cognisance of the Covid 19 situation, the apex court is seeking a detailed road map to fight Covid 19 from the central government. In its May second week affidavit the central government defending its stand, told the Supreme Court, “In the context of a global pandemic where the response and strategy of the nation is completely driven by expert medical and scientific opinion, there is not even a little room for judicial interference.”

The central government went to the extent that the Supreme Court does not have competence when the affidavit says  “ Any overzealous, though well meaning judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving the doctors, scientists, experts and executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go”. It is obvious that the Supreme Court is not amused by the contentions of the government. The June 2, 2021 directive of the Supreme Court giving a months’ time to the central government to clarify how Rs. 35,000 crores earmarked for procuring the vaccine have been spent so far compels us to take a fresh look at the budget papers once again.

Nirmala Sitaraman, right from her days as spokesperson of BJP is known for her oratory skills. Through her 2021-22 budget speech, the central government bolstered its image by informing the House, “Today, India has two vaccines available, and has begun medically safeguarding not only her own citizens against COVID-19, but also those of 100 or more countries.” amidst the cheers of the usual drum beaters. She also told Parliament, “38. I have provided `35,000 crores for Covid-19 vaccine in BE 2021-22. I am committed to provide further funds if required.”

The budget speech had not stopped here. It went on to state, “39. The Budget outlay for Health and Wellbeing is `2,23,846 crores in BE 2021-22 as against this year’s BE of `94,452 crores, an increase of 137 percentage. The details of the same are at Annexure I of the Speech.” The said Annexure 1 clearly mentioned Rs. 35000 crores for vaccination. But surprisingly the same is not reflected in the final budget documents. A detailed presentation of allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is given at pages 155 to 172 in the expenditure budget volume. The summarised table given below is drafted from the budget papers itself where we cannot find a single mention about the allotment against vaccine procurement.

Details

2019-20 Actuals

2020-21 BE

2020-21 RE

2021-22 BE

Total Establishment Expenditure of the Centre

5108.3

5219.21

5949.58

6245.8

Total Central Sector Schemes

8282.76

9761

23167.57

10566.63

Other Central Sector Expenditure

11343.11

10192.59

11465.6

11478.84

Total Centrally Sponsored Schemes

37662.91

39839

38283.25

42977.5

Grant Total

62397.08

65011.8

78866

71268.77

 

But under the Central Sector Schemes/ projects subheading, there was a new entry titled COVID -19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package – EAC we find three entries in the revised budget 2020-21. An amount of 11756.97 crores under three components (Rs. 95 crores for National Institute of Communicable Deceases, Rs. 4724 crores against Central Procurement of Supplies and Materials for Covid 19 and another Rs. 6937.36 diverted from National Rural Health Mission grants to meet the requirements of Covid 19 Emergency Response Package. Surprisingly, the same was prematurely discontinued in the 2021-22 budget estimates, which clearly indicates the mood in the establishment that India had not only reined in Covid 19 and developed sufficient protective walls but was also supplying vaccine for more than 100 countries ! In such a situation where will the supposedly allocated Rs. 35,000 crores for vaccine procurement comes from? This can only explained by believers of Advaita philosophy which can be summarised Gajam Midhya – Palayanam Midya (There is no elephant and hence there is no question of attempting to escape).

The Centre’s great numbers game does not stop here. In the annexure to the budget speech the Finance Minister had stated on the floor of the house that other than the allocations for department of Health and Family welfare, the allocations for vaccination are presented as two separate entries which totals 1.06 lakhs crores ! In a post budget interview the secretary for department of Expenditure stated that this allocation is sufficient for vaccinating 50 crores population for free. But the same is not reflected in the Demands for Grants budget.

Even after the central government was caught red handed for faking budget allocations, this bluffing has not been stopped. The Union government resorted to a blatant lie to cover-up its disingenuous unethical practice of spreading fake news. In such an attempt, responding to the criticism about zero allocations for vaccine procurement, the ministry of finance stated that the said amount is mentioned under the subhead ‘Transfers to States’. Moreover the statement says, “Firstly, because expenditure on vaccine is one-off expenditure outside the normal Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds. Also, this grant is exempted from the quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands. This helps to ensure that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme,”

The transfers to state governments were present in previous budgets as well. Even the budget documents for 2021-22 have clearly mentioned about the Transfers to States allocations that the allocations which earlier used to be known as Grants in Aids to States / UTs have not been changed to Transfers to State/UTs as per the recommendations of Finance Commission. This is not a new subhead opened up under the Modi regime.

The fact is that to comply with the Supreme Court directives and submit the details of expenditure of Rs. 35,000 crores, the government appears to be indulging in “file notings” and other back end exercises to “make good” its unethical budgetary practices.

Related

Why can't allocated budget of Rs.35,000 crores be used for vaccinating 18-44 year olds: SC asks Centre
EXCLUSIVE: PM must intervene, stop misinformation campaign, recognise Covid martyr medics: IMA chief
9,346 children abandoned, orphaned, lost a parent to Covid-19: NCPCR informs SC
Maha govt announces Rs. 5 lakh FD and monthly assistance for Covid-orphans

Great Number Game of Vaccine Funding: Zero Allotment = Rs. 35000 Crores !!!

Image Courtesy:moneycontrol.com

For more than over a month since last week of April, when the Supreme Court took suo moto cognisance of the Covid 19 situation, the apex court is seeking a detailed road map to fight Covid 19 from the central government. In its May second week affidavit the central government defending its stand, told the Supreme Court, “In the context of a global pandemic where the response and strategy of the nation is completely driven by expert medical and scientific opinion, there is not even a little room for judicial interference.”

The central government went to the extent that the Supreme Court does not have competence when the affidavit says  “ Any overzealous, though well meaning judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving the doctors, scientists, experts and executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go”. It is obvious that the Supreme Court is not amused by the contentions of the government. The June 2, 2021 directive of the Supreme Court giving a months’ time to the central government to clarify how Rs. 35,000 crores earmarked for procuring the vaccine have been spent so far compels us to take a fresh look at the budget papers once again.

Nirmala Sitaraman, right from her days as spokesperson of BJP is known for her oratory skills. Through her 2021-22 budget speech, the central government bolstered its image by informing the House, “Today, India has two vaccines available, and has begun medically safeguarding not only her own citizens against COVID-19, but also those of 100 or more countries.” amidst the cheers of the usual drum beaters. She also told Parliament, “38. I have provided `35,000 crores for Covid-19 vaccine in BE 2021-22. I am committed to provide further funds if required.”

The budget speech had not stopped here. It went on to state, “39. The Budget outlay for Health and Wellbeing is `2,23,846 crores in BE 2021-22 as against this year’s BE of `94,452 crores, an increase of 137 percentage. The details of the same are at Annexure I of the Speech.” The said Annexure 1 clearly mentioned Rs. 35000 crores for vaccination. But surprisingly the same is not reflected in the final budget documents. A detailed presentation of allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is given at pages 155 to 172 in the expenditure budget volume. The summarised table given below is drafted from the budget papers itself where we cannot find a single mention about the allotment against vaccine procurement.

Details

2019-20 Actuals

2020-21 BE

2020-21 RE

2021-22 BE

Total Establishment Expenditure of the Centre

5108.3

5219.21

5949.58

6245.8

Total Central Sector Schemes

8282.76

9761

23167.57

10566.63

Other Central Sector Expenditure

11343.11

10192.59

11465.6

11478.84

Total Centrally Sponsored Schemes

37662.91

39839

38283.25

42977.5

Grant Total

62397.08

65011.8

78866

71268.77

 

But under the Central Sector Schemes/ projects subheading, there was a new entry titled COVID -19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package – EAC we find three entries in the revised budget 2020-21. An amount of 11756.97 crores under three components (Rs. 95 crores for National Institute of Communicable Deceases, Rs. 4724 crores against Central Procurement of Supplies and Materials for Covid 19 and another Rs. 6937.36 diverted from National Rural Health Mission grants to meet the requirements of Covid 19 Emergency Response Package. Surprisingly, the same was prematurely discontinued in the 2021-22 budget estimates, which clearly indicates the mood in the establishment that India had not only reined in Covid 19 and developed sufficient protective walls but was also supplying vaccine for more than 100 countries ! In such a situation where will the supposedly allocated Rs. 35,000 crores for vaccine procurement comes from? This can only explained by believers of Advaita philosophy which can be summarised Gajam Midhya – Palayanam Midya (There is no elephant and hence there is no question of attempting to escape).

The Centre’s great numbers game does not stop here. In the annexure to the budget speech the Finance Minister had stated on the floor of the house that other than the allocations for department of Health and Family welfare, the allocations for vaccination are presented as two separate entries which totals 1.06 lakhs crores ! In a post budget interview the secretary for department of Expenditure stated that this allocation is sufficient for vaccinating 50 crores population for free. But the same is not reflected in the Demands for Grants budget.

Even after the central government was caught red handed for faking budget allocations, this bluffing has not been stopped. The Union government resorted to a blatant lie to cover-up its disingenuous unethical practice of spreading fake news. In such an attempt, responding to the criticism about zero allocations for vaccine procurement, the ministry of finance stated that the said amount is mentioned under the subhead ‘Transfers to States’. Moreover the statement says, “Firstly, because expenditure on vaccine is one-off expenditure outside the normal Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds. Also, this grant is exempted from the quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands. This helps to ensure that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme,”

The transfers to state governments were present in previous budgets as well. Even the budget documents for 2021-22 have clearly mentioned about the Transfers to States allocations that the allocations which earlier used to be known as Grants in Aids to States / UTs have not been changed to Transfers to State/UTs as per the recommendations of Finance Commission. This is not a new subhead opened up under the Modi regime.

The fact is that to comply with the Supreme Court directives and submit the details of expenditure of Rs. 35,000 crores, the government appears to be indulging in “file notings” and other back end exercises to “make good” its unethical budgetary practices.

Related

Why can't allocated budget of Rs.35,000 crores be used for vaccinating 18-44 year olds: SC asks Centre
EXCLUSIVE: PM must intervene, stop misinformation campaign, recognise Covid martyr medics: IMA chief
9,346 children abandoned, orphaned, lost a parent to Covid-19: NCPCR informs SC
Maha govt announces Rs. 5 lakh FD and monthly assistance for Covid-orphans

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