Incorrect to say there is no provision for expenditure on COVID-19 vaccination: Govt

at 4:55 pm
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File Pic)

New Delhi (NVI): The Finance Ministry today termed as “factually incorrect” a media report which said there is “Zero allocation” for expenditure on COVID vaccination by the Central government in the Union Budget 2021-22 as Rs 35,000 crore have been allocated in the form of transfers to the states.

“The amount of Rs. 35,000 crore has been shown under the Demand for Grants No. 40, titled ‘Transfers to States’,” the ministry said in a statement, countering the media report.

The use of the Demand titled ‘Transfers to States’ in no way implies that expenditure cannot be incurred by the Centre, it added.

The vaccination process has come under a scanner because of high price fixed on the inoculation despite demands that it should be made free by the government.

“Vaccines have actually been, and are being, procured by and paid for by the Centre through this head of account,” the Ministry said.

The use of this Demand for Grants has several administrative advantages. Firstly, because expenditure on the vaccine is one-off expenditure outside the normal Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds, the statement said.

Also, this grant is exempted from the quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands, the Ministry said.

This helps to ensure that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme. The amount provided under this head for vaccinations is actually operated by the Ministry of Health, the statement said.

Vaccines are passed on to the States as grants in kind and the actual administration of vaccines is being done by States, it said.

Further, there is enough administrative flexibility to change the nature of the Scheme between grants in-kind and other forms of grants, the Ministry said.