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Rajasthan budget: Gehlot announces populist budget with promise for universal health

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Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced several populist initiatives and schemes during his almost three-hour-long budget speech on February 24, most notable among them being the promise of implementing universal health coverage, through the Right to Health Bill under the Rajasthan Model of Public Health (RMPH).

The Chief Minister said that an allocation of Rs 3,500 crore has been declared in this regard for the upcoming financial year of 2021-2022.

“For the first time in the country, we are going to implement universal health coverage in the state in the coming year at the cost of Rs 3,500 crore,” Gehlot said, adding that each family would receive medical insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh.

However, the revised estimates of the 2020-21 fiscal year reveal some surprising details. The spending on education, medical, health and family welfare, and labour, was lesser than the budgeted expenditure, reported thewire.in.

This is surprising because owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was expected that at least for the health sector, more than the allocated budget would be spent.

For medical, health and family welfare, the budget has been increased to Rs 14,46,492.31 lakh from Rs 13,30,030.98 lakh, which is a minimal increment considering the burden that health facilities have been facing. The spending last year stood at Rs 12,63,771.02 lakh.

The Chief Minister also announced a Rs 500-crore package for tourism development, which was severely hit due to the COVID pandemic, reported the Times of India.

The Chief Minister said, “to provide employment opportunities to the youth of the state, more than 50,000 posts will be recruited in the next two years.”
Every district will have a nursing college. Apart from eight existing nursing colleges, 25 new colleges will be opened, he said.

Candidates participating in competitive examinations will be provided free travel in roadways buses, Gehlot said.

Some of the other announcements made by the chief minister included smart TV sets for classrooms, emergency mobile veterinary services for animals, interest-free loans to urban unemployed and street vendors along with public health colleges in every divisional headquarters.

Setting an eye at the upcoming by-elections for the four Assembly constituencies, Gehlot announced that women’s colleges named after the four deceased MLAs will be built in these districts.

The opposition BJP criticised the Congress government over the budget with leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria asking how the government will fulfil the promises in wake of severe revenue shortage.

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