Hospitals, universities abroad receiving huge endowments due to inheritance tax: Jaitley

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said that various hospitals, universities and other institutions abroad have been receiving huge endowments due to inheritance tax, adding that it is not the same scenario in India.

Addressing an event at AIIMS here, Jaitley said: “In most hospitals and educational institutions in developed countries, they have some of the largest endowments. Those endowments come to educational institutions from their alumni which has strengthened the quality of these institutions. Once they are successful in life, they keep supporting institutions with those endowments. Some IITs have started this experiment now in India, but still, they are not very largely privileged”.

“Similarly, if you go to some of the best hospitals in the world, they are having the largest amount of endowment. If we talk about the largest hospitals in the US or Europe, endowments are into billions of dollars. These are all provided by people and patients who benefitted from these institutions. I was analysing why this tradition does not exist in India,” he added.

Jaitley underlined that one of the reasons he found while analysing was that societies abroad have a very large inheritance tax, due to which a large number of people in their old ages prefer to donate in charitable organisations for inheritance tax, which is not the case in India.

An inheritance tax requires beneficiaries to pay taxes on assets and properties they have inherited from someone who has died. It is levied by the governments of most countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. India also had this tax but was scrapped by the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government in 1985.

Jaitley said that there are still a number of less privileged people who are unable to afford private healthcare and there is a need to give these people access to the best possible treatment.

The Finance Minister informed that almost six lakh patients have obtained treatment under the Ayushman Bharat scheme in the last three months.

Prior to this, Jaitley and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda inaugurated the water cooler facilities at AIIMS. These facilities are under a welfare initiative of Shri Girdhari Lal Dogra Memorial Trust.

Talking about the project, Jaitley said: “Infrastructure is needed to provide support to the attendants both in terms of living and food. Hospitals really cannot look after many extra amenities and most of them are looked after by society at large. Therefore, once we made this observation that at least in a small humble way, this drinking water facility can be supplemented to what already exists in AIIMS for attendants. The trust has taken this initiative. I think this will be a very important facility”.

Water coolers are the source of cold water but most often they are used as a source of drinking water by the community at the hospital who require safe and hygienic water which is the basic right of every citizen and in a place like a hospital where clean, drinking water indirectly helps in healing.

Drinking water and coolers are installed almost at every strategic location at AIIMS and are used by almost every patient, attendant and visitor. These water points at AIIMS are used by non-hospital community too, including people from outside the hospital due to hygienic and quality water, read a statement from the government-run hospital.

The AIIMS drinking water and cooler facilities which are already providing safe drinking water to the tune of 21,000 litres per hour will be further augmented by 7,700 litres per hour extra by the generous donation from the trust.

Through this initiative, many of the water coolers machines, including the smart fountain type and airport type cooler machines and barrier-free bottle filler stations are installed in AIIMS all over the campus including, OPD, speciality centres and wards as well as JPNA trauma centre, community medicine centre at Ballabhgarh and NDDTC Ghaziabad.

Shri Girdhari Lal Dogra Memorial Trust was established in the memory of Girdhari Lal Dogra who was a member of the Lok Sabha and senior leader from Jammu and Kashmir. He served as Finance minister of the state for 26 years. The trust has provided large water coolers which are to be installed in upcoming New OPD Block at Masjid Moth area of AIIMS.