Guwahati: Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said the state is gradually facing financial stress because of huge expenditure incurred while dealing with the COVID-19 situation, including treatment of the patients.
He announced the withdrawal of some of the free services offered to COVID-19 patients like reaching them to their homes after discharge from hospitals and levied charges on dedicated cabins. Also all paying cabins in government hospitals, which had been made free for COVID-19 patients, will resume being charged ones from now on to mitigate the financial crisis of the state.
“While fighting COVID-19 pandemic in Assam, our revenues or resources are slowly getting stressed … If it continues till October-November, then it will be difficult for us,” he told a press conference.
“We will also not be giving free vehicle drops to a patient after he is discharged. He or she has to arrange it. However, for inter-district movement of patients after release we will continue to arrange their transport,” he said. Sarma said that if anyone wishes to get the result of RT-PCR test within 24 hours in government hospitals they will be required to pay Rs 2,200. “We made a calculation that till yesterday that we have one lakh patients. If they are staying in a hospital for 10 days it means it will be 10 lakh in headcount. If we are spending Rs 500 per day, then it becomes a Rs 500-crore affair. “We have done 20 lakh tests and if we have spent Rs 1,000 approximately in every test, then it is Rs 200 crore.
“The state government can definitely not handle such a huge burden. So, a time may come when we will be able to look after only the poor patients. However, today that situation has not come yet,” he added. PTI