Arun Jaitley defends allocation for new healthcare scheme, says government can take additional measures to fund it

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that adequate measures have been taken to fund the Narendra Modi government's plan to roll out the world's largest healthcare initiative across the country. Speaking exclusively to Rahul Joshi, Group Editor-in-Chief of Network18, Jaitley countered the Opposition's charge that the scheme would be another "jumla."

"I have left a lot of leverage for additional measures in this Budget. From a budget of 24-25 lakh crore, to take out 10,000 crores isn't a big deal. I have given a provision of 2,000 crores for the scheme to kickstart," Jaitley said when asked about the rise in allocation from Rs 2,000 crores to Rs 12,000 crores.

File image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

File image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

The government came under criticism from the Opposition after it was revealed that the Union Budget 2018-19 provided just Rs 2,000 crore for the ambitious National Health Protection Scheme that aims to cover 50 crore poor people.  The scheme, which will give health coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per person, is expected to be launched on 2 October 2018.

Former Union minister P Chidambaram had taken a swipe at Jaitley over his claim that he would raise money for the scheme in the future by calling it a "perfect jumla (gimmick)".

Jaitley expressed confidence that the government would be able to implement the healthcare scheme and added that the 1 percent cess and the Long Term Capital Gains Tax, which were introduced in this year's Budget, will help in shoring up the funds.

"Now, I am getting Rs 11,000 crore from the 1 percent cess which we have imposed. When the long term capital gain moves ahead, I expect another 20,000 crore in the first year. I hope this will continue in the third and fourth year as well. If the govt wants, they can add to these schemes," he said.

Watch the full interview of the finance minister on CNN-News18 at 10 pm on Monday.

Updated Date: Feb 04, 2018 15:40 PM

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