The Assam government has received financial assistance of over Rs 262 crore from the Centre for management of COVID-19 pandemic and rolling out the vaccination drive, state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.
Presenting the ‘Vote on Account Budget for 2021-22’, Sarma said the government allocated an additional Rs 760 crore for prevention and management of the pandemic to the general budget grant of Rs 6,126 crore to the Health Department in the ongoing fiscal.
“To finance our fight against COVID-19, we received a grant of Rs 72.73 crore for 2019-20 from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In addition, we received Rs 182 crore recently for 2020-21 for COVID-19 management,” he added.
For the rollout of the first phase of the vaccination programme for the frontline workers, the Centre has provided a grant of Rs 2.46 crore to Assam, Sarma said in his speech.
“In addition, we have also received funds amounting to Rs 4.99 crore and Rs 8.36 crore from the Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) Ministry and GIZ India for management of COVID-19,” he said.
During the pandemic, the public made a generous financial contribution of Rs 116.89 crore to the Assam Aarogya Nidhi in a very short time span, but that amount has not been used as of now, the finance minister informed the assembly.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the donors who stood by us in this crisis… The entire fund has been kept intact and we will utilise it with utmost prudence to fight COVID-19 in the coming times,” he said.
Stating that managing the COVID-19 pandemic has been “probably one of greatest moments of satisfaction for me in my entire public life”, Sarma thanked the doctors, paramedical and nursing staff, enforcement departments, district administrations and health department.
“While the role of doctors and nurses has been critical in saving lives, the services rendered by the other healthcare staff were no less important in ensuring the functioning of the facilities and they are the unsung heroes in the true sense,” he added.
As a result of a coordinated effort by all, the state has consistently maintained a high COVID-19 recovery rate of 98.73 per cent and one of the lowest mortality rates at 0.5 per cent, which has been nationally and globally acknowledged, claimed Sarma, who is also the state health minister.
He further said that the vaccination drive to give the people a reasonable safety net is the next objective with a provision of 6.6 lakh vaccine doses.
“I am happy to inform this august House that more than 1.15 lakh doses inoculations have been conducted till date. In parallel, the fight to keep further waves of this virus from appearing in our state continues,” he said.
Sarma also said that during the course of the last year, the government set up 1,000 ICU beds and 4,500 regular hospital beds along with a provision of 1,408 ventilators and 4,541 oxygen cylinders for the fight against the pandemic.
Besides, he acknowledged the services by the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and recognising their importance, the government decided to enhance the wages of 32,546 ASHA workers by Rs 1,000 per month.
Sarma said the COVID-19 pandemic not only threatened the lives and health of people, but also resulted in a never- witnessed-before lockdown across the globe, including India, which impacted the GDP.
“Assam too faced adverse growth figures, especially in the first two quarters of this financial year, and our revenue targets were affected. Our State, however, exhibited exemplary resilience and financial adroitness.
“I am justifiably proud of the fact that we did not make any deductions in the salaries of our government employees, as had been the case with some other states, and also ensured a timely disbursement of their pensions,” the finance minister said. (PTI)