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Social sector asks double tax on ‘sin’ goods, higher health outlay

New Delhi: Social sector representatives at a pre-Budget 2016-17 meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday demanded doubling the allocation for the health sector and a higher rate of “sin tax” on tobacco and alcohol.

They also sought that the allocation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) be increased by Rs 5,000 crore and provision in the forthcoming budget for spending 10 percent of the GDP on education.

“Right now spending on health is 1.2 percent. It should be at least 2.5 percent,” Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, chief executive of Voluntary Health Association of India told reporters following the meeting.

“Most of the suggestions centred around social security schemes and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna. We have asked for Rs 5,000 crore additional funds under MNREGS, because there was drought and no work for poor people,” said HelpAge India board member Mathew Cherian.

The social sector groups told the finance minister that India has one of the lowest per capita investments in health and is under threat from both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

“Non-communicable diseases are arising out of sin products like tobacco and alcohol. So we recommended specific taxation of tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, bidi and smokeless products. We want excise duty to be doubled,” Mukhopadhyay said.

They said the revenue generated from extra duties on sin products should be utilised for the development of workers who manufacture such items.

Members of the delegation also demanded that the old age pension be increased to Rs 500 per month per person for those between 60-79 years and Rs 1,000 per month for those above 80 years.

Right to Education (RTE) Forum national convener Ambarish Rai said the central government should increase spending on education to 10 percent of GDP, from the current 4 percent. He also asked for recruiting qualified teachers in government schools which are facing a shortage of over 9 lakh teachers.


One Comment

  1. Prof Manoj Sharma Prof Manoj Sharma Friday, January 15, 2016

    Before One talks of increased taxation on tobacco products and tobacco, it about time when a plan for total ban on tobacco is activated.

    This should include replacement of tobacco farming, special grant allocation to create alternative jobs for tobacco workers, high- 400 to 500 % taxation on tobacco products and health insurance for tobacco workers.

    Rest all is beating around the bush and buffoonery as 66 years of counselling educating and advertising against tobacco has not made any change in increasing incidence of tobacco related cancers and subsequent deaths.

    We have failed to learn lessons from developed countries as to how they have succeeded in curtaining the usage of tobacco, improving health statistics . We have also ignored the Indian inputs by scientific communities that have discovered long back that the revenue earned from tobacco is as of latest is one twentieth of the revenue spent on tobacco related diseases.

    God has His own ways…at one end it provides foods for the families of tobacco worker and at the same way He takes away the food from the dependents of tobacco victim. Any way good for failing population control measures of this country.

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