Rs 10,000 Cr Outlay Likely To Keep Public Healthy

New Delhi, June 29 | Updated: Jul 1 2004, 04:39am hrs
The finance ministry is likely to allocate Rs 8,000-10,000 crore for public health in the Budget. Former finance minister Jaswant Singh in his interim Budget had allocated about Rs 2,700 crore for the same.

Reliable sources told FE that the four-to-five-fold increase in the allocation is due to the UPA governments commitment to improve health. The Congress had promised to focus on public health during election and it is also listed in the common minimum programme, sources added. The ministry has already decided to extend the Universal Health Insurance scheme, launched last year, to the people below poverty line.

The government has also promised steps to ensure life-saving drugs at reasonable prices. In addition, the government would study whether it would be feasible to revive public sector units set up for the manufacture of critical bulk drugs to keep the prices in control.

The government had spent Rs Rs 2,600 crore on health during the 2003-04 period.

As per the CMP, the UPA government will raise public spending on health to at least 2-3 per cent of GDP over the next five years. The CMP also underlines the need to step up public investment in programmes to control all communicable diseases, while providing leadership to the national AIDS control effort.

Apart from health, the government is likely to substantially increase allocations for education. It has also earmarked Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore towards ensuring at least 100 days of employment.

The government may look at developing employment opp-ortunities in the rural and semi-rural areas, sources said.