Millennium Post

Priority spending

Priority spending

In a public health relief, the Bombay High Court thrashed the Maharasthra government for delaying the financial aid to Wadia Hospitals for women and children. Hearing a PIL seeking the release of grants from the BMC and the state government, the High Court mandated that the amount — Rs 24 crore — should be released by today as against the government's proposed timeline of three more weeks. The court asked the government if money for building statues was more important than public health. It slammed the government for not treating public health as a priority. What comes out of this hearing can be held true for the entire country. Public health has indeed taken a setback in the face of expenses that may not be of paramount importance. Built at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore, the Statue of Unity is indeed remarkable but arguments floated on how the money spent in erecting an overwatching Sardar Vallabhbhai could have been utilised rather in his vision for India through real ground development. Civic issues are abundant in Indian cities and rural spaces with health, transport, sanitation, education, et al, all seeking increased allocation to undertake proposed developments. Bombay High Court's say comes from the acknowledgement of a poor public health situation that the state has displayed lately. The issue only points how fund utilisation remains paramount in good governance. For a government, state or the Centre, to spend on statues while other areas bask in fund-deprivation, it is a crisis of governance. Such expenditure can be there when other areas are allocated sufficient funds for their use. Of course, what is sufficient must be answered as what is sought to be sufficient may not match the government's definition of the same. With the government health expenditure as meagre as one per cent of GDP, there is a serious need to appropriately allocate funds. And not just allocate but release them in a timely manner so that it can be utilised for the greater good. Delays in releasing funds can very well defeat the purpose, as in the case of public health where a lack of funds may prove costly for government hospitals treating scores of poor patients.

Editorial

Editorial

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