The Madhya Pradesh government has cut the annual budget for the year 2020-21 by 12%, including Rs 403 crore from the allocation to three key departments of public health and family welfare, medical education and Ayush, which, as per the Congress, need more money to deal with Covid 19 pandemic.
The budget appropriation for financial year 2020-21 was approved by governor Anandiben Patel through Ordinance promulgated on Saturday, said Jagdish Deora, state’s finance minister.
Last year, the budget appropriation was Rs 2,33,605 crore, while this year it has been decreased by Rs 28,000 crore to Rs 2,05,397 crore. The budget of every department has been cut down by 10-12%, according to the allocation made to each department as compared to the last fiscal.
During the spread of Covid 19 pandemic, the deduction in budget of public health and family welfare department by Rs 142 crore, medical education department by Rs 249 crore and ayush department by Rs 12 crore raised concern as the state is still ill prepared to deal with the rising numbers of cases, said health experts.
“Decrease in health budget is a matter of concern in a state like MP, where stories of a woman delivering on road in Chhatarpur, body being carried on a cot in Sidhi and death without treatment in Guna, are examples of poor health infrastructure. In MP, Covid 19 patients are mostly being treated in private hospitals,” health activist Arvind Mishra said.
Another health expert alleged that the move suggested that the government was relying on the private sector instead of the public sector.
“The state government’s dependence on private health services will collapse the whole system of public health. There are so many departments where the budget could be reduced but it is like a sin to reduce the health budget during a pandemic. Like other states, there was a need to allot additional budget in view of the pandemic, but the MP government ignored it as they wanted people to go out of state for health facilities or spend money in private hospitals,” said Amulya Nidhi in a scathing comment.
The Congress alleged the reduction will adversely impact Covid management and betrayed the state government’s insensitivity towards common people dying of the disease.
“This is for the first time, that the reduced budget has been passed through an Ordinance. It is shameful. Instead of increasing the budget to improve health facilities and infrastructure during this pandemic, the budget was reduced by Rs 403 crore of health related departments,” former public relation minister PC Sharma said.
Finance department minister Jagdish Deora explained the rationale for deduction and added that health services were government’s priority and won’t be allowed to suffer.
“In the first quarter of this financial year, tax collections reduced by 65% due to the lockdown but health services continue to be our priority. The reduced budget will not hinder the health facilities and development projects,” Deora said.