The State Government today turned down an appeal from every quarter to slash the cost of COVID-19 testing in the state saying the cost is market driven.
Addressing the media after the state cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said, “We are not here to charge any profit out of this, we are asking people to pay the expenditure of the cost incurred in this.”
Stating that the cost of the COVID-19 test is market-driven, Sangma said, “Yes, of course in some time the expenditure may go down accordingly we will adjust the price of the tests and rest assured it will be market-driven.”
Nothing free in Meghalaya, at the time when states like Karnataka, Haryana, Odisha, or Gujarat beside others slashes rates for RT-PCR testing, the Meghalaya Government here has put a cap of Rs 3,200 per RT-PCR, CBNAAT, and TrueNAT test. The rate is on a higher side as compared to other states. Even in neighbouring Assam, the government has fixed Rs 2200, a thousand rupees less than Meghalaya.
The state has been recording an average of more than a hundred cases daily as with the increase in cases over the past few days, the state has seen a concurrent increase in the number of active cases. However, despite several requests from various quarters including political parties, citizens, critics, and others, the state Government refused to slash the COVID-19 test rate in the state.
“There was a time when PCR kits cost Rs 3500 when Antigen test kits were not available and gradually the market rates were hovering around Rs 450 to Rs 500 to 550, and we are not looking at any profit we are looking at costs and obviously we will pass on the cost-benefit to the customers, that is to the patients to our people, but we can’t realize the cost factor involve as we spend more than Rs 30 crore in just in testing kits and other things and these have been given free to the people,” the CM said.
“There is a challenge we face, but we feel we need to balance it out and the society and the public also need to come in,” he explained.
Clarifying further on COVID-19 expenditure which amounts to Rs 399 crore, the Chief Minister said procurement of ambulances and development of health care infrastructure besides others have been put into the list which has caused serious concern amongst the netizens.
“When you look at COVID-19, we define what COVID-19 expenditure is? If you look at the ambulances that we bought, it could be counted under COVID-19 or it could be under health in general, so we have decided to put that also in COVID-19 expenditure,” he stated adding, “We have done investment in hospitals, sub centre, in different PHCs CHCs, on ventilators, so these expenditures are put as COVID-19 expenditure.”
“We have developed the health infrastructure and the expenditure in it in the last nine months and all these have gone to fight against COVID-19. We have testing centres in all the districts across the state which most states don’t have and this does not come for free, we have to invest in it,” Sangma said, stating this will help in the long run. EOM