The relief measures announced by the government to help the revival of businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rise in expenditure to ₹34.50 lakh crore in the current fiscal as against ₹30.42 lakh crore budgeted a year back, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during the budget session on Monday (February 1).
The pandemic also resulted in weak revenue inflow and higher expenditure was incurred to provide support for the economy and people, she said while presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22. Sitharaman also provided ₹35,000 crore towards COVID-19 vaccination in 2021-22 fiscal.
“I have provided ₹35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine in this year 2021-22. I’m committed to provide further funds if required. The Budget outlay for health and well-being is ₹2.23 lakh crore in 2021-22 as against BE of ₹94,452 crore and marks an increase of 137 per cent,” she said while presenting 2021-22 Budget in the Lok Sabha.
India had earlier in January approved two vaccines – Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – for restricted emergency use. The country launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world’s largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.