Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday admitted that the COVID-19 related expenditures is not as high as what the state had spent last year, even as he mentioned that the financial health of the state is not too good.
“The reason for that is last time things were very chaotic. There was no time to really decide whether it is the right or wrong thing, we had to pay for people coming back, we had to pay for people’s stay, we had to pay for doctors, and other in the hospital to stay in the hotels, we had to give money to the labourers, we had to pay for different entrepreneurship programmes,” Sangma told reporters on Monday.
He said the expenditure on COVID-19 pandemic had crossed Rs 400 crore last year.
Stating that the government has learn from its experience last year, Sangma said, “It has given us some kind of idea in the way we could manage things better, the way we could reduce our cost, it doesn’t mean we compromise with the health of the people absolutely not…so we are in a better position to at least decide on where to spend in a much better manner and where we could minimize our expenditure…”
In terms of resources, the chief minister said the government is managing the situation from its own resources.
“Most of the resources are coming in from our own resources from the taxes we are getting from the central government which is the devolution of the taxes that we have and our own taxes – with that we are managing the situation right now,” he said.
He continued, “But we need to see how things go in the next few months at the global and national level, how the economy is impacted and based on that we will come to know how the overall situation in the state will be in terms of finances.”
Asked, the chief minister said it is natural that there will be financial strain not only for Meghalaya but every state in the country “but the question is how we can manage things and utilize the funds in the best possible manner.”
Informing that the government has also realized the need to support private hospitals, he said, “Therefore, we have decided that we will support the private hospitals also in terms of their running expenditures for getting manpower or even to invest in equipment in case they need to improve the infrastructures.”
Stating that the cases may go up to 7,000 – 8,000, the chief minister said there is need for the government to ramp up the oxygen plants, oxygen beds and continue with the ongoing restrictions.
“We are looking at a tough situation in the next few weeks but if city and state works together we are sure we will able to overcome this very difficult phase where we see rise in cases, stress in the health care system, shortage of vaccination – all these aspects are adding to lot of pressure but we hope that things will improve once this particular phase is over,” he said.