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Budget 2021: FM Sitharaman proposes doubling of healthcare spending

India, which has the world's second highest coronavirus caseload after the United States, and currently spends about 1 per cent of gross domestic product on health

Topics
India health budget | Nirmala Sitharaman | Budget 2021

Reuters  |  New Delhi 

Nirmala Sitharaman
The government will launch a new federal health scheme with an outlay of around Rs 641 billion ($8.80 billion) over the next six years, says Nirmala Sitharaman. Photo: @ANI

Unveiling an annual budget on Monday aimed at reviving an economy that plunged into deepest recorded slump amid the pandemic, Finance Minister proposed doubling healthcare spending to Rs 2.2 trillion ($30.20 billion).

The government will launch a new federal health scheme with an outlay of around Rs 641 billion ($8.80 billion) over the next six years, she told parliament kicking off her budget speech.

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India, which has the world's second highest caseload after the United States, and currently spends about 1 per cent of gross domestic product on health, among the lowest for any major economy.

"The investment on health infrastructure in this budget has increased substantially," said Sitharaman as lawmakers thumped their desks in appproval.

The world's second-most populous country has begun a huge vaccination drive and a steep fall in new cases over the past few months is supporting an economic recovery.

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"There are signs that the political, economic and strategic relations in the post Covid-19 era are changing and ... India is well well-poised to be the land of promise and hope."

The economy is projected to contract 7.7 per cent in the current fiscal year ending in March but then gather steam in 2021/2022 to hit 11 per cent, which would make it the world's fastest growing major economy ahead of China's estimated 8.1% pace.

Still, it would take the economy two years to reach pre-pandemic levels, the government said.

India's blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 and S&P BSE Sensex indexes extended gains to around 1.4 per cent each as Sitharaman laid out her proposals. The Indian rupee was marginally stronger at 72.86 against the dollar, while the 10-year bond yield slipped to 5.89 per cent. 

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First Published: Mon, February 01 2021. 12:24 IST
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