Jaitley bats for one nation, one health policy

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that there was a dire need for India to have an integrated health policy to provide maximum benefits to the patient population across the country.

Jaitley, who was speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry Health Tech Summit here, said, “All the state and central health schemes such as Ayushman Bharat and schemes need to be merged together so that their benefit reaches the patient population of the country in a consolidated manner.”

“This will surely be implemented by the states which is centrally coordinated. It will also not result in the rise of turf between the states and the Central governments. Such a scheme will essentially measure that if patients of one state are better than the patients of another state pertaining to the facilities and health infrastructure,” he added.

“The fundamental principle is you need resources and to invest in the social sector you need more resources. The idea is to strengthen the states with more revenue,” the Union Finance Minister,” added, while elaborated upon the idea by citing the example of Goods and Services Tax (GST) implemented by the Centre in 2016.

“When we implemented GST, we created an institution comprised of Central Finance Minister and all Finance Ministers of the states. We sat together to decide on a common tax system and end up merging Central and state taxes by virtue of a federal body which was coordinating it. It was India’s first experiment in implementing the first common tax regime by creating the first federal institution,” he said.

He further said, “When my government assumed office in 2014, only 3.8 crore people out of 130 crores filed tax returns. At the end of 5-year tenure, the figures will be doubled. The quantum has also jumped. The first year of GST added 74 percent of the more revenue and slowly the revenue will keep increasing. Every state today gets 42 percent of the Central revenue and 50 percent share of GST and taxes and then we have Central sector schemes like Ayushman Bharat Yojana from where they get additional revenue.”

Jaitley also touched upon the importance of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan in marking a sea change in the dignity of the lives of the rural population, especially women. “A preventive health programme like Swachch Bharat in India has been successful after the figure of 39 percent rural sanitation going up to 92 percent,” he said.

“The mission became successful because it partly became a women’s movement in villages. We were giving Rs 12,000 for every toilet established in the rural home. Once the percentage of the programme reaches 98 percent we don’t have to invest too much money into it,” he said.

Jaitley said the Central government has made efforts to establish institutions of excellence pertaining to health care across India and the private players are also investing in health care in Tier II cities,” he added.