The Union Budget 2022 speech did not have mentions or changes in tax measures for the larger public. Union Budget 2022-23 did not modify the personal income tax rates. In addition, the minister did not enhance the standard deduction, which was expected in light of rising prices and the pandemic’s effect on the middle class.
Individuals who got money for expenditures related to Covid 19 medication, on the other hand, have been granted relief. Similarly, money received by members of the family upon a person’s death due to Covid-19 from others apart from employers would be excluded from taxation up to a maximum of 10 lakh rupees.
The health sector budget estimate for 2022-23 is Rs 86,200.65 crore, up 16.59 percent from the budget estimate for 2021-22. In addition to improving health facilities, the government has prioritized another important aspect of the pandemic: mental health. The statements made last year in the context of the pandemic’s pressure on health services will be carried through in this year’s Budget.
The commencement of the Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana initiative, now called Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over six years, was announced in the Finance Minister’s previous Budget address.
The increase is significant: just Rs 595 crore was allotted under this plan in the revised Budget projections for 2021-22, compared to Rs 4,176.84 crore this year. The government launched the roll-out of the national mental health programme in response to Covid-19’s detrimental effects on mental health and the resulting exponential surge in mental health difficulties among vulnerable demographic groups.
The news comes amid mounting scientific evidence of mental health consequences after a coronavirus infection. Individuals have reported anxiety and despair throughout the pandemic, with recovered patients experiencing brain fog and being unable to focus properly. Neurological problems are also seen in the patients.
Another major emphasis of the Budget is on digital health. In her Budget presentation. Sitharaman announced about the launching of a national health ecosystem open platform. She claims that the digital ecosystem would include a list of digital registers for health providers and facilities, as well as a unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities.
Significantly, the national digital health programme has been given a budget of Rs 200 crore, up from Rs 30 crore in the previous Budget. At the same time, another key flagship project, Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, has a budget allocation of Rs 6,412 crore, which is about the same as the amount in the Budget estimates for 2021-22.
The government has set up Rs 15,163.22 crore for central sector initiatives and projects, a 43.5 percent increase above the budget forecasts for 2021-22. This year, the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana has been given a boost: Rs 10,000 crore has been allotted to the plan, a 35 percent increase above the budget projections for 2021-22.
The Department of Health Research, which was instrumental in the creation of vaccines in India, has received a budget of Rs 3,200 crore. However, when compared to the updated 2021-22 predictions, this is merely a 4-percent rise.
Experts praised the budgetary announcement for a national tele-mental health programme, noting that although 10.4% of the population has a diagnosable mental health illness, this does not indicate that everyone has to be seen in a hospital. This tool will be effective in identifying moderate types of mental illness that may not need medication or patient treatment.
Setting up a mental health hotline is a minor step, but one that many can hope will grow in importance. This, however, is insufficient. We need to focus on mental health programmes in the same way that the Center and states have focused on Covid-19.
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