Saturday, February 2, 2019

Interim Budget 2019: Implications for health

The interim Budget 2019 was presented by the Finance Minister yesterday in the Parliament. There was not much in it for the health sector, as probably all of us would have been expecting.

The government has increased the defence budget to beyond Rs 3 lakh crore to ensure preparedness. It has also proposed a single window clearance for ease of shooting of films now also for Indian filmmakers (earlier available only for foreign filmmakers). But nothing specific for health was mentioned in the Budget. We have been demanding single-window accountability system as well as a single-window registration of our establishments.

But, the government has announced major tax benefits for the poor and the middle class, which should relieve mental stress, at least as far as finances are concerned.

Chronic stress has a negative effect on health and well-being, which can manifest as irritability, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. It promotes behavioural changes in the form of overeating or undereating, alcohol or substance use, tobacco use, sedentary life and social withdrawal. This way, stress has been implicated in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, obesity, asthma, depression.

Physical and mental health, both are important for well-being of a person. Poor mental health is not conducive to optimum physical health.

So, this budget should come as a relief for several thousands of citizens and promote good mental health in them as they would be stress-free.

Here are the key highlights from the Budget 2019.

·         Setting up of 22nd news AIIMS in Haryana; presently 21 AIIMS are operating or being established
·         ESI eligibility increased from Rs 15,000/- per month to Rs 21,000/- per month.
·         Honorarium of ASHA and Anganwadi workers increased by 50%
·         Allocation for ICDS increased from Rs 23,357 Cr in 2018-19 to Rs 27,548 Cr in 2019-20.
·         Tax free gratuity increased from 10 lakh to 20 lakh.
·         GST on some goods has been reduced from 28% to 18%.
·         Govt. will launch a Mega pension yojana “PM Shram Yogi Maandhan” for the organized sector with income up to Rs 15,000/- per month on a monthly contribution, which will assure pension of Rs 3000/- per month after 60 years of age; Govt. will deposit equal matching share.
·         India has become the 2nd largest hub of start-ups. Job seekers have now turned job creators.
·         National Programme on Artificial Intelligence has been envisaged by our government. This would be catalysed by the National Center on Artificial Intelligence as a hub along with Centers of Excellence. Nine priority areas have been identified. A National Artificial Intelligence portal will be established soon.

Individual income tax proposals

·         Existing Income tax rates to continue
·         Individual taxpayers with annual taxable income of up to Rs 5 lakh will get full tax rebate
·         No tax for individuals with gross income up to Rs 6.5 lakh if investments in provident funds and specified savings
·         TDS for tax deduction on rent increased from Rs 1,80,000/- to Rs 2,40,000/-
·         Increase in standard deduction from Rs 40,000/- from Rs 50,000/-
·         TDS on interest earned on investments (FDs, post office savings, banks) for small depositors and non-working spouses increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs 40,000/-.
·         Benefit of rollover of capital tax gains to be increased from investment in one residential house to that in two residential houses, for a taxpayer having capital gains up to Rs 2 crore; can be exercised once in a lifetime
·         Exempt levy on income tax on notional rent on second self-occupied house.
·         Income tax relief on Notional Rent from unsold houses extended to 2 years

10 most important dimensions that will guide the government in Vision 2030

1.    Build next-gen infrastructure - physical as well as social to become a $10 trillion economy and to provide ease of living.
2.    Create a Digital India that reaches every sector of economy and every corner of India by creating innumerable startups and jobs
3.    Clean and Green India - an India that drives electric vehicles, with renewables becoming major source of energy
4.    Expand rural industrialization using modern industrial technologies, based on Make in India
5.    Clean Rivers - with safe drinking water to all Indians and sustaining and nourishing life, using micro-irrigation techniques; long coastline can be pivotal for the economy, using strength of blue economy and sagar mala
6.    Oceans and coastlines
7.    Space program with the aim to place an Indian astronaut in space by 2022
8.    Self-sufficiency in food and improving agricultural productivity with emphasis on organic food
9.    To have a healthy India in environment of health assurance with support of necessary infrastructure. Work towards distress-free health care and functional and comprehensive wellness system for all
10. Transforming India into a Minimum Government Maximum Governance

(Source: Lok Sabha TV, TOI)

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA

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