THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Covid expenses bear down on the state’s finances, the government has allowed local self-government institutions to accept contributions from the public to run the Covid First-Line Treatment Centres. They can accept assistance by way of cash or materials, though the latter is more preferred.
The government had recently sanctioned the third instalment of the Plan Fund to local self-government bodies to be used for setting up CFLTCs and for other Covid control activities like quarantine, reverse quarantine, community kitchens and aid to hospitals. Additional assistance has also been promised when this instalment gets exhausted.
Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said the decision to accept donations has been taken because the state is bracing for an explosion in case count.“We are preparing for the worst and hence every precaution is taken. The CFLTs are crucial in the fight since they could drastically reduce the burden on hospitals,” he said.He said the government has given vast powers to the LSGs in Covid control activities and expects much, like good food to inmates.
“Tasty and nutritious food is a top priority. We want the people to stay comfortable. The LSGs should ensure very good food and accommodation facilities while the health department will take care of the treatment part,” he said. The government is ensuring transparency and accountability in donations. Cash can be accepted only through a designated joint account in the names of the CFLTC chairperson and nodal officer (LSG chairperson and an LSG officer, respectively). The LSG department will send detailed guidelines on fund receival and management shortly.
“Donations would also instil a sense of participation among the people in this fight and hence we prefer materials as donation. We expect a good response to the call since CFLTCs house local people,” he said.
The minister said the government’s Covid-related expenses would run into hundreds of crores.
“It is mounting and I do not have the exact figures now. Sufficient money is granted to the health department to make things faster,” said Isaac.The minister, however, dropped a hint: “The health department has been given `600 crore for drug purchase until now while the last year’s expense was `400 crore.”