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BMC underspends health budget as hospitals await life-saving machines

While files pertaining to the procurement of life-saving equipment such as ventilators,surgical operating microscopes,and foetal monitors have been languishing with the civic body for three years,BMC budget data reveals that less than 28 per cent of the previous year’s health budget has been realised.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published: June 29, 2013 4:11:22 am

While files pertaining to the procurement of life-saving equipment such as ventilators,surgical operating microscopes,and foetal monitors have been languishing with the civic body for three years,BMC budget data reveals that less than 28 per cent of the previous year’s health budget has been realised. Of the civic health department’s capital budget estimate of Rs 651.42 crore,an actual expenditure of only Rs 179.89 crore or 27.62 per cent was carried out for the financial year 2012-2013 — this despite the civic body’s efforts to severely revise the budget estimate to Rs 325.13 towards the end of the fiscal year.

From this budget,barely 10 per cent of the Rs 22 crores allotted to specialised hospitals was used,while major and peripheral hospitals failed to spend more than 30 per cent of the funds assigned for capital goods. Maximum expenditure of about 40 per cent was recorded for the budget dedicated to medical colleges.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar in-charge of the civic health department said the new procurement policy is to blame for the poor expenditure

last year.

“Out of the whole budget only the capital budget expenditure was poor last year because we introduced a new procurement policy so there were some bottlenecks. This year,however,we have made provisions to ensure that last years pending expenditure is included in this year’s budget,” said Mhaiskar.

This year,the corporation has allotted Rs 623.60 crores for public health budget. However,Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh who raised the issue at the standing committee meeting last week alleged that the health department’s budget performance has been consistently inadequate for the last three years. “The actual expenditure of the capital budget has remained largely the same for the last three years. The public health infrastructure is routinely neglected by the BMC,” he said.

As many as 134 pending files amounting to roughly Rs 82.4 crores (or roughly 25 per cent of last fiscal year’s revised estimate),are maintained with the civic-run Medico Electronic Cell. Included among these files,are life-saving equipment files referring to the acquisition of items such as ventilators,surgical operating microscopes,and foetal monitors. Most of this equipment is to be supplied to KEM Hospital — the city’s main municipal hospital. “We have now asked the civic administration to look into these files and expedite the tendering process and their procurement. We expect all files to be cleared in a month,” said standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale.

Refusing to acknowledge that 134 files are pending,additional municipal commissioner Rajeev Jalota said,“We are currently working on a policy change for the Medico cell that will speed up clearance for purchase of health equipment.”

The Medico cell comprising civic engineers maintains an inventory of all machines installed at each of the 21 civic healthcare centres in the city. It oversees the repair,maintenance and replacements of all machines in civic hospitals.

(With inputs by Aparajita Pande)

alison.saldanha@expressindia.com

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