As has been noted before, money for the health scheme has not been allocated for the next year. Yet let us assume that the government is serious on its implementation. The figure of Rs 2.5 lakh crore per year is almost equal to ALL other current government subsidies put together.
There are only two sources of where this money can come from: either some massive new tax on the other 15 crore families not covered by this scheme or huge monetisation of government assets which we have not yet been told about. Either way, the government will need to tell the people where the money is going very soon. This kind of money is hard to keep hidden. Remember that thee scheme is such that this will have to be funded every year.
Let us also remember that the government does not have a source of funds of its own. We the people, you and I, pay for every scheme that the politicians come up with. We pay taxes not just on our income but we pay indirect taxes whenever any one of us buys anything through goods and services taxes. The government taxes businesses. The businesses see taxes as a cost and they have to recover those through higher prices. Every rupee that the government spends is taken from us, the people.
Not just us, the government takes from our children. How? The government borrows massive amounts, which have to be paid from future taxes — which our children will have to pay. Part of the money the government borrows each year, is used to pay the interest on the money it owes us.
Which brings us to another possibility – that the government has no intention of actually implementing the health scheme. This explains why they don’t see the need to budget for it. Given that the next Budget will be presented only in July 2019 by the next government if elections are held as per schedule (and we will only see a vote on account in Feb-Mar 2019), the earliest full scale implementation of this scheme is not possible for 2 years. It is hard to imagine 10 crore families not wanting their newly promised funds for such a long time – and if so, they must be told. Just like cigarette smoking comes with strong disclaimers, so must this scheme.
Which in turn can only mean that elections are imminent. The government perhaps has no intention of actually implementing this scheme – it serves as a great election promise, but only if elections are held soon. (Else, the funds will have to be delivered.) The 10 crore families represent about 40 crore voters. In 2014, the BJP had got 17 crore votes. With a 50% hit rate in the 10 crore families, the next election could be as good as won.
In which case, let us call out the scheme for what it is: “the world’s biggest vote purchase scheme.” Just like the Rs 15 lakh promise. Just like Garibi Hatao.