Nima Wangdi 

A total of Nu 10.5 billion (B) is provisioned for the health sector for the financial year 2022-2023, which constitutes 12.9 percent of the total budget allocation.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering submitted this while presenting the budget report for the financial year 2022-2023 at the National Assembly yesterday.

He said that the budget is inclusive of Nu 4B for the Ministry of Health out of which, Nu 538.124 million (M) is for Covid-19 containment measures.

“This includes Nu 432.570M for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, Nu 73M for procurement of Covid-19 test kits and Nu 32.554M for flu clinics, and procurement of ventilators,” Lyonpo Namgay Tshering said. “Further, Nu 301M is for procurement and maintenance of hospital equipment.”

He also submitted to the house that Nu 160.631M is also earmarked to initiate the construction of 60-bedded Pema Centre, a hospital for mental health and wellbeing, Nu 67.923M for Continued Medical Education and Nu 63.500M for reconstruction of four satellite clinics at Motithang, Babena, Simtokha and Debsi.

The minister said Nu 340M is allocated for the construction of 150-bedded Gyaltsuen Jetsuen Pema Mother and Child Hospital, Nu 232.890M for the construction of a 65-bedded Mother and Child Hospital in Mongar, and Nu 62.216M for ancillary works at Gidakom for National Centre for Infectious Disease.

According to the budget report, the sector includes the Health Flagship Programme of Nu 238.240M for diagnostic and curative measures, Nu 84.500M for procurement of a Cardiac Catheterization laboratory, and Nu 79M for procurement of equipment at the JDWNRH.

The government has also earmarked Nu 1B to meet Covid-19 containment related expenses and Nu 432.570M for Covid-19 vaccine procurement.

It also allocated Nu 1.6B for ongoing quarantine facility constructions at Dhamdum in Samtse, Amochhu in Phuentsholing, Dekiling in Sarpang and Motanga in Samdrupjongkhar.

In the financial year 2021-2022, the total budget allocated to support Covid-19 related activities is Nu 3.3B.

According to the minister, of the total budget, Nu 2B was provisioned under the General Reserve for containment and management of Covid–19 pandemic, Nu 1.1B was received through generous support from development partners like the government of India, World Health Organisation, World Bank, UNICEF, European Union (EU) and SDF and Nu 133.834M was met through technical adjustment within the overall approved budget.

He submitted that the cumulative expenditure since the 2019-20 financial year for containment and management of Covid-19 is Nu 8.1B, of which Nu 1.2B is financed through grants and Nu 710.513M through loans.

Lyonpo Namgay Tshering also submitted the Covid-19 Response Fund (Ngultrum Account and Foreign Currency Account) was opened on March 9, 2020 to receive voluntary contributions from the development partners, individuals, corporate bodies, agencies, institutions, and CSOs from within and outside the country for the management of the pandemic.

He said that as of March 31, 2022, the total fund received in Ngultrum Account was Nu 151.268M, of which Nu 120M was spent on Covid-19 test kits in the financial year 2020-21. “The total fund received in Foreign Currency Account was USD 26,300.83 and no expenditure has been made from this account till date.”

He also said that the fund balance as of March 31, 2022 was Nu 31.268M in Ngultrum account and USD 26,300.83 in foreign currency account.