Union Budget 2016-17: Social Sector
A new health protection scheme was announced to provide health cover up to one lakh rupees to poor and economically weak families.
The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 29 February 2016 presented the Annual Financial Statement or the Union Budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha. In his budget speech the minister listed nine pillars on which the Government will focus on in order to transform India into a developed nation.
The nine pillars are - Agriculture and farmers' welfare, rural sector, social sector including healthcare, education, skills and job creation, infrastructure, financial sector reforms, ease of doing business, fiscal discipline, tax reforms to reduce compliance burden.
The minister announced various initiatives to infuse new dynamism in social sector and empower the vulnerable at an estimated cost of 151581 crore rupees in 2016-17.
LPG connection to all BPL families
• The scheme seeks to provide universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
• It is complimentary to Give It Up campaign under which 75 lakh middle class and lower middle class households who have voluntarily given up their cooking gas subsidy. The campaign was launched in March 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
• Under this new scheme, LPG connections will be provided in the name of women members of poor households.
• 2000 crore rupees allocated for 2016-17 to meet the initial cost of providing these LPG connections.
• This will benefit about 1 crore 50 lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17.
• The Scheme will be continued for at least two more years to cover a total of 5 crore BPL households.
• It will empower women and protect their health and will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
New Health Protection Scheme
• Under this scheme, health cover up to one lakh rupees per family will be provided to poor and economically weak families.
• For senior citizens of age 60 years and above belonging to this category, an additional top-up package up to 30000 rupees will be provided.
• This initiative is significant because catastrophic health events are the single most important cause of unforeseen out-of-pocket expenditure and pushes lakhs of households below the poverty line every year.
National Dialysis Services Programme
• It seeks to provide dialysis services at affordable cost in all district hospitals.
• Funds will be made available through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode under the National Health Mission.
• It will benefit about 2.2 lakh new patients of End Stage Renal Disease who are added in India every year resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions.
• In addition, certain parts of dialysis equipment were exempted from basic customs duty, excise/ Countervailing duties (CVDs) and special additional duty (SAD).
• The programme was launched as the existing 4950 dialysis centres are largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns. Moreover, these centres, because of their ownership and location, are able to meet only half of the demand.
National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Hub
• It will provide professional support to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs to fulfill the obligations under the Central Government procurement policy 2012.
• It will adopt global best practices and leverage the Stand Up India initiative.
• It will be implemented in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in partnership with industry associations.
• Launch of the scheme also marks the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar and fulfill the government’s intention to make it the Year of Economic Empowerment for SC/ST entrepreneurs.
100 crore rupees each allocated for celebrating the birth centenary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay and the 350th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.
Strengthening existing schemes
Stand Up India Scheme
• It was approved by the Union Cabinet in January 2016 to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and women entrepreneurs.
• 500 crore rupees allocated for this scheme in 2016-17 and this will benefit at least 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs.
• It will facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch, one for each category of entrepreneur.
Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana
• To reinvigorate the supply of generic drugs 3000 new Jan Aushadhi Stores will be launched in 2016-17.
• The scheme was launched in July 2015 to supply high quality generic medicines at the prices lower than the current market prices.
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