Mumbai civic body may allocate fund for Covid-19 expenses in its 2021-22 budgetUpdated: Oct 23, 2020, 00:20 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) annual budget for 2021-22 is likely to have a separate budget head for expenditure related to Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of using money allotted to the municipal health department for upgrading overall health infrastructure of the city, BMC’s health department plans to keep a dedicated amount for Covid-related expenditure in 2021-22. Budget 2021 is likely to be presented in February next year.
At present, BMC’s planned expenditure on Covid-19 relief work, from March till December 2020, rounds up to over Rs 1,200 crore. So far, the money has come from BMC’s contingency fund, and partly from the revenue allocations made in BMC’s budget 2020 for the health department. In January 2021, more Covid-related expenses are anticipated.
The budget head for Covid-19 in the civic body’s budget 2021 will cover expenses related to purchasing ventilators; equipment for oxygen supply; medicines for Covid-19 patients in municipal hospitals; adding more beds to treat Covid-19 patients; and expenses such as salaries for medical staff, and other administrative costs.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani, who is in charge of BMC’s public health department, said, “We have begun work to outline expenditure we are likely to incur in 2021-22 due to the pandemic, for Budget 2021. It is being deliberated to allot a separate budget head for Covid-related expenditure in Budget 2021.” He said the required figure for Covid relief was still being worked out. “BMC is likely looking at substantial Covid-related expenditure especially on the revenue side [salaries and administrative expenses such as bills], in the upcoming fiscal year. It makes sense to submit demands for this money under a separate head, instead of utilising allocations made to the public health department,” said Kakani.
When the pandemic broke out in Mumbai in March, BMC began setting up multiple, temporary, jumbo Covid-19 care facilities in Mumbai, which required beds, setting up intensive care units (ICU), purchasing medical equipment, hiring additional medical staff (such as doctors, nurses, trainee doctors) as well as ward help and cleaners.
“On the capital side of Covid expenditure (setting up Covid-care facilities, beds, ventilators, ICUs), it appears Mumbai civic body is confidently ready. Revenue expenditure related to Covid-19 will recur, however, along with some more capital expenditure too,” said a senior civic officer.
The total estimated health budget for 2020-21 (revenue and capital expenditure) is ₹4,260.34 crore, which was increased by 14% compared to revised estimates of 2019-20. This comes to about 12% of the total budget of the municipal corporation in 2020. Budget 2020 had also allotted Rs 2 crore to upgrade Kasturba Hospital in light of the pandemic, which comes under the budget head for the civic health department. The municipal commissioner’s speech for budget 2020 read, “Mumbai may also be at risk of spreading of coronavirus that originated from China. As such, a provision of ₹2 crore is proposed in B.E. 2020-21 for strengthening of Kasturba Hospital.”