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Finance Secretary says Rs 5,000 crores outlay for vaccine spending in FY23; more can be allocated as policy evolves

The government, in the last budget, had provisioned Rs 35,000 crores towards COVID vaccination for the 2021-22 fiscal. The amount has been upped to Rs 39,000 crores in the revised estimates

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The government has earmarked Rs 5,000 crores in the next fiscal just for COVID vaccination of 15-17-year-age group and precautionary dose for senior citizens, T V Somanathan, Secretary, Finance, said, emphasising more money will be allocated as needs arise.

The government, in the last budget, had provisioned Rs 35,000 crores towards COVID vaccination for the 2021-22 fiscal. The amount has been upped to Rs 39,000 crores in the revised estimates.

Asked about the reason for reduced outlay for 2022-23 fiscal, Somanathan explained that while the outlay in the last budget was towards vaccinating full adult population, the next fiscal’s allocation needs to be seen in the context of ‘precautionary doses’ and jabs to children in the age group of 15-17 years.

“Last year, the provision was for two doses of vaccination for 100 per cent of adult population. The allocations are made based on the evolving health policy. Currently, the health policy is a booster for certain segments — frontline, above 60 years and vaccination for 15-17 years. That amount has been catered to Rs 5,000 crores has been earmarked,” he told PTI.

The nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination drive started on 16th January, 2021. The new phase of universalisation of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from 21st June, 2021. As part of the nation-wide vaccination drive, the government of India has been supporting the states and UTs by providing them COVID vaccines free of cost.

Over 75 per cent of the country’s adult population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than Somanathan further said, “As policies are evolved, the budgets will follow. But Budget will not precede the policy.”

The secretary said there has been an increase in health outlay for next fiscal to Rs 83,000 crores. In the current fiscal, Rs 82,921 crores has been pegged in the Revised Estimates (RE), up from and Rs 71,269 crores in the budget estimates.

In addition, expenditure on health research too has seen an increase to Rs 3,201 crore in the next fiscal, from Rs 3,080 crores in the RE of the current fiscal.

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