Several announcements made by Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam in the State budget on Monday, are aimed at improving the health of people in the State. Prices of medicines, daily-use articles for women, children and the elderly and the price of some grains such as oats are set to fall as the government has reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on them. The exemption granted from VAT on vegetable oil for the turnover up to Rs.5 crores per year will be withdrawn to prevent tax evasion and VAT will be levied at the rate of 5% on such sale of vegetable oil.

While VAT on feeding bottles, nipples, helmets and insulin has been fully exempt from the present levy of five per cent, VAT on sanitary napkins has been reduced to five per cent from 14.5 per cent. Exemption of VAT on oats and wheat will boost consumption of these grains, making for a healthy diet.

If a packet of diapers costs Rs. 125 at present, it will now be Rs.10 cheaper. A bottle of insulin, which now costs around Rs. 155 to Rs. 160, could be cheaper by around Rs. 7.50. A feeding bottle that costs around Rs. 70 could be cheaper by four rupees. A helmet priced at Rs. 760 after VAT will now save you Rs. 40.

Vijay Viswanathan, managing director, M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, Royapuram, said, “It will mean savings for those who are on higher doses of insulin. Type 1 diabetic patients usually require an average of 40 to 60 units per day and a bottle contains around 400 units. Long-term diabetics also need 60 units of insulin every day. For such persons it will mean savings,” he said.

Hospitals benefit

With the budget announcing an allocation of Rs. 10 crore for the improvement of mortuaries, major and older hospitals hope for better funds allocation. Doctors expect that the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), Stanley hospital, Royapettah and Kilpauk Hospitals will get more funds. All these hospitals except the one at Kilpauk are over 100 years old and need to upgrade their facilities to comply with the Medical Council of India norms.

Three months ago, the Health Department officials asked all hospitals to provide an estimate for upgrading mortuaries. The estimates were submitted to the Director of Medical Education. But hospital authorities are in the dark about the funds they would be allocated.

Improving facilities in mortuaries has been a long-pending demand of these hospitals.

“We need money to upgrade the infrastructure and improve the cleanliness of the mortuary. The funds will help us take up civil works,” said V. Kanagasabai, dean, RGGGH.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012