Unpacking the Garib Kalyan package  

#GS2 #Governance


In the current situation, the most significant component of the Rs 1.70 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana relief package is the increased entitlement of foodgrains supplied through the public distribution system (PDS). 

  • A typical poor household having five adult members consumes 50-55 kg of cereals and 4-5 kg of pulses every month.  
  • Currently, the PDS provides 5 kg of cereals per person per month at Rs 2/kg and Rs 3/kg for wheat and rice, respectively. That is 25 kg for a family of five. 
  • Roughly 80 crore persons or two-thirds of India’s population covered under the National Food Security Act will benefit.  
  • These poor or lower middle class sections, impacted most by the lockdown, will no longer need to buy any wheat or rice from the market. 

How much will all this cost? And how effective will it be on the ground? 

  • The Food Corporation of India (FCI) in 2019-20 has incurred an expenditure of Rs 26.80 for procuring and distributing every kg of wheat, and Rs 37.48 per kg of rice. 
  • At an average economic cost of Rs 30/kg, 80 crore persons being provided 15 kg each of free grain (over three months) would translate into an additional outgo of Rs 36,000 crore. 
  • The economic cost does not include the FCI’s expenses in holding and maintaining excess stocks in its godowns. This “carrying cost” — basically interest and storage charges — is estimated at Rs 5.61 per kg in 2019-20. 
  • And given that FCI and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India are now holding some 77.6 mt of cereals (3.5 times more than required) and 2.2 mt of pulses respectively, this is also an effective way to dispose of excess stocks. 

What is the other substantial relief measure announced? 

  • Sitharaman has said that LPG gas cylinders would be distributed free to 8 crore poor families for the next three months. 

Will enhancing daily wages under MNREGA by Rs 20, from an average of Rs 182 to Rs 202, help?  

  • Not really, in a lockdown, where there’s little scope to undertake MNREGA works. 
  • When daily wage earners are supposed to remain at their homes, the only way to compensate them under MNREGA is through unemployment allowance.  
  • The onus for paying that under the Act is, however, on the state governments. It is unlikely they would make the necessary budgetary provision. 

The relief package also seems to have cash transfer components? 

  • When daily wage earners are supposed to remain at their homes, the only way to compensate them under MNREGA is through unemployment allowance.  
  • The onus for paying that under the Act is, however, on the state governments. It is unlikely they would make the necessary budgetary provision. 

What does the package really amount to? 

  • The main problem for poor and vulnerable households today is liquidity stress. Unlike big businessmen or the salaried middle class, these are people with no balance sheets, reserves, or bank balances.  
  • Every day’s loss of work for them means cutting down even basic consumption and going deeper into debt.  
  • Free grain can help, but does not address the real crisis, which is of liquidity.  
  • They need cash to buy essential things other than just food — and most of them had it till the other day. 

Source : Indian Express 


‘WHO’s underfunding hits global disease response’ 

#Health #InternationalOrganisations 


Do most big public health plans stem from large crises? 

  • It is definitely true that many of the world’s most significant and successful universal health coverage reforms have followed, and been a consequence of major crises.  
  • Good examples include the UK, France and Japan after World War II, Thailand after the Asian financial crisis, China after the 2002 SARS crisis, and even Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. 

To what extent does the underfunding of bodies like the WHO impact global information-sharing on disease? 

  • In September 2019 the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board Report recommended that Member states need to agree to an increase in WHO contributions for the financing of preparedness and response activities and must sustainably fund the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies, including the establishment of a replenishment scheme using funding from the revised World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.  
  • Looking to the future, it is vital that governments heed this recommendation and the other ones outlined in the GPMB report. 

Poor countries do not have the money to make public health a top priority, many governments say. 

  • The amount that governments spend on public health, health systems, and health in general is a political choice weighed up against other priorities.  
  • Some countries choose to spend a higher proportion of their GDP through public health financing than others, and in many instances have increased public spending quite dramatically.  
  • China did for example, after the SARS epidemic in 2002. There are though, a number of countries that demonstrably give a low priority to public health spending, and regrettably that includes India 

Could something good and useful emerge on the other side of this pandemic? 

  • This terrible tragedy will be a wake-up call that the world collectively needs truly global universal health coverage whereby everyone on the planet receives the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.  
  • This clearly means access to and use of public and preventive health services to stop outbreaks becoming epidemics, and also curative, rehabilitative and palliative care services for those who become sick. 
  • This can only be achieved through publicly financing the health system so that the healthy wealthy subsidise the sick and the poor.  
  • And there are already signs of some countries recognising that they do need to socialise their health financing systems more (e.g., Ireland, Spain, South Africa) to tackle this epidemic and this may also happen in countries like India and America as well, which have become dominated by inequitable private financing.  
  • So hopefully in the long run, responding to this epidemic will take the world closer to the SDG goal of universal health coverage. 

Source : Indian Express 


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