Monday, 24 September, 2018

Experts feel govt National Health Protection Scheme 'old wine in new bottle'

Nellie Chapman | 05 February, 2018, 00:42

For example, though the targeted disinvestment for the coming fiscal year is Rs. 80,000 crore, going by the Finance Minister's speech in the parliament, it could very well exceed the target.

But when you look the actual allocations (quite apart from the eventual spending, which is usually less), what emerges is a different picture.

Which is why, perhaps, the outlay for agriculture and allied sectors has increased only 13 per cent for 2018-19, about three per cent for health, four per cent for education and 1.4 per cent for rural development. No wonder farmers have again given Jaitley a thumbs-down.

The survey said that GST had triggered a "50 percent increase in unique indirect taxpayers" which led to "3.4 million new indirect taxpayers" and an additional 1.8m individual tax papers (adding 3 percent to the total).

The much-hyped National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley and for which Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated in the Union Budget for 2018-19, has been termed by experts as "old wine in a new bottle".

The editorial also points to the ambitious healthcare initiative launched and echoes what others have stated that this being the world's largest public health insurance programme can help in the long run if structured properly. SJM co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan in a statement said "foreign insurance companies should not be engaged so that valuable resources of the country are retained in India only". He further said the states will be given the choice to either opt for insurance based model or Trust-based model for implementing the scheme. The current Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana provides annual coverage of only Rs 30,000 to poor families: the idea is to multiply the insured amount by six times, and extend the coverage from less than 100 million people at present to around 50 crore people.

In the process, he failed to fulfil his promise of reducing the corporation tax rate for all companies to 25 per cent, but there was merit in his argument that his decision to reduce the tax rate on all companies with a turnover of Rs 250 crore would cover 99 per cent of the corporate tax payers. He commented, "The second development of investment of Rs 10,000 crore for rural Wi-Fi hotspots, giving five crore citizens access to broadband speed internet by the deployment of five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots should help bring more consumers online, increasing digital consumption of services like OTT, entertainment, banking, and e-commerce". Or just a joke?

In case the market prices are lower than MSP, government would procure the produce or ensure farmers get right prices. The auto industry ended 2017 on a positive note, where it grew despite multiple policy disruptions in the previous year; but the customs duty hike is likely to reverse the growth trend.

The measures for micro, small and medium enterprises are similarly sorcerer's tricks rather than real budgetary allocations.

"The government has taken some measures in this Budget towards strengthening the MSME sector".