In response to complaints that the government has not paid for expenses incurred in the battle against Covid-19 and to reassure the public that it has used funds judiciously, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong informed today that Meghalaya has incurred Rs 399 crore worth of Covid-related expenses from March to the end of September.
Rs 251 crore of bills has been cleared by the state government, while the central government has sanctioned Rs 48 crore for Meghalaya. Rs 3.5 crore from the PM Cares fund was also spent on providing food for certain beneficiaries, Tynsong said. Pending dues will be cleared soon, he added.
“This expenditure will be subjected to audit and reflected in the CAG’s (Comptroller and Auditor General’s) annual report,” Deputy CM told reporters while admitting that the public has been questioning the government’s spending on the pandemic.
He also said that the state’s finances are “not that good” nor conducive to fighting a major health emergency that has had serious ramifications on tourism and other income-generating economic activity.
“Therefore the Chief Minister and I will go to New Delhi to seek more funds as the Centre has a special financial package for the state apart from the entitlement provided by the central government,” he stated.
Giving a detailed break-up of the Covid costs, Tynsong informed that Rs 188.9 crore has been incurred by corona care centres, in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs), ambulances and other expenses under the National Health Mission.
Rs 82.4 crore was incurred for the procurement of oxygen cylinders, blood pressure monitors, ventilators, surgical gloves, thermal scanners and other items under the Director of Health Services.
Rs 7.4 crore was incurred for the procurement of ambulances, bio-medical waste vans and charges for quarantine centres under the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
Rs 14.7 crore was incurred for payments made to Meghalayans stranded in other parts of the country, to bring them back home and for “provision of kits” under the Chief Minister’s special grant.
Rs 51 crore was incurred in providing assistance to labourers, daily wage earners and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families out of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “Several lakh” people benefitted from this, Tynsong claimed.
Meanwhile, MLAs were each sanctioned Rs 25 lakh to spend within their constituencies on Covid-related relief. With 60 MLAs in the Assembly, that would amount to Rs 15 crore. A further Rs 8.9 crore was spent from the District Rural Relief Fund.
An amount of Rs 23.7 crore was incurred for the creation of laboratories, procuring testing kits, storage plants and in containment zones, Tynsong added.
Rs 3.5 crore was also spent by the Urban Affairs Department for sanitization work and other activities, while Rs 8.9 crore was incurred for relief grants and costs relating to screening points and other facilities paid out of the District Mineral Fund.