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Union Budget: Impact on Health Sector

The Union budget for 2007-'08, presented by Finance minister P.Chidambaram has drawn cheers from some quarters and flak from others. In his introductory remarks he// said: 'The education and health sectors will also receive substantial funds. In 2007-08, I propose to enhance the allocation for education by 34.2 per cent to Rs.32,352 crore and for health and family welfare by 21.9 per cent to Rs.15,291 crore.'

Dissuading smoking has been a high priority and smokers have always paid more for their puffs over the years. This year is no exception. The minister said: 'I strongly support the campaign 'say no to tobacco'. Hence, I propose to increase the specific rates of excise duty on cigarettes by about 5 per cent. Similarly, excise duty (excluding cess) on biris, which was last fixed in 2001, will be raised from Rs.7 to Rs.11 per thousand for non-machine made biris and from Rs.17 to Rs.24 per thousand for machine made biris. There is an exemption from excise duty for unbranded biris up to 20 lakh biris in a year. Complaints have been received of misuse of the exemption. This exemption will henceforth be available subject to fulfillment of the condition of declaration with the Department of Central Excise and regular monitoring.'

But what is the impact of the budget on the health sector ?

The following are some of the highlights

? There is an overall rise, in the funds allocated for healthcare, by 21.9%. The proposed amount for 2007-2008 is Rs.15, 291 Cr, compared to the Rs. 11,366 Cr for the current financial year

? Funding has been increased for National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) from Rs.8207 Cr to Rs.9947 Cr, with particular focus on mother and childcare. Emphasis is also made on the control of communicable diseases like malaria. This move is expected to be a boon on the lower socio-economic group.

? There is also an attempt to merge various nati
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