ISLAMABAD: After a decade, the federal government has finally allocated funds for three hospitals in Karachi — the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH).
According to the federal budget 2020-21 statement, the federal government has allocated Rs14.18 billion to run the three hospitals, including Rs9.242bn for the NICVD, Rs3.877bn for the JPMC and Rs1.07bn for the NICH.
The highest chunk of the federal allocation for health sector has been reserved for the NICVD, with the allocation of Rs9.24bn meant to run the main NICVD centre in Karachi and its satellites and chest pain units in other parts of Sindh.
The federal government has earmarked Rs3.87bn for the JPMC; Rs1.54bn for its operational expenses and Rs158.66 million for repairs and maintenance.
In May 2019 the federal Ministry of National Health Services had notified that three major hospitals in Karachi had been returned to the Centre as indicated in a Supreme Court judgement of January 2019.
Since the federal government was reluctant to take charge of these hospitals, their control remained with the Sindh government.
Meanwhile, the government has also claimed credit for providing Rs875bn coronavirus-related stimulus package this year which increased fiscal deficit by almost 2 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to 9.1pc.
Providing the details of the Rs1,200bn special stimulus package which includes establishment of a Rs100bn emergency fund, federal Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar in his budget speech said the government had allocated an amount of Rs875 billion for purchase of medical equipment, personal protective equipment and medicines to fight the coronavirus pandemic and to mitigate its effect on the economy and the masses.
Most of the money for the package, he said, had been utilised through the Utility Stores, National Disaster Management Authority and Federal Board of Revenue while Rs150bn had been allocated for financial support to 16 million vulnerable families and shelter homes through the Ehsaas programme.
The federal government has earmarked Rs200bn for financial aid to daily-wage workers and Rs50bn in terms of subsidies on essential items to be sold through Utility Stores.
The government has also allocated Rs100bn to the FBR to enable it to pay refunds on exports and Rs100bn for installments of electricity and gas bills of the needy consumers.
Reading out the details of measures aimed to counter the impact of coronavirus, the minister said the prime minister had approved a special package for small businesses. Under the package Rs50bn has been approved for three-month electricity bills of around three million small businesses.
As coronavirus has cast an impact on the livelihood of rural communities too, the package contains Rs50bn support for small farmers in terms of subsided fertiliser, loan write-off and other relief measures.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2020