Free vaccines, food an additional $11 billion expense to India: Official

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India will have an additional expense of $11 billion or 800 billion rupees for providing free vaccines and food to millions of people who have been severely affected in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, officials aware of it reported.

The Centre will allocate an additional 700 billion rupees for supplying food to the needy and other eligible groups till November said the sources who want to remain anonymous. They further said an additional 100 billion rupees will be needed for free vaccinations.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared to provide free vaccine doses, reversing the existing policy for the states where they compete to stock up the shortage of the vaccines. Modi’s administration has been highly criticized for the management of the country where thousands have lost their lives.

Modi, while addressing the nation on Monday, said the Indians above 18 years of age will be vaccinated free from starting from June 21.

The sources revealed the government may not have to withdraw the funds from the bond market, quoting the 991.2 billion-rupee dividend procured by the government from the central bank and expected inflows from asset sales. With the additional amount, the government will have an expenditure of a total of 1.3 trillion rupees for food and has reserved 350 billion rupees for the budget of vaccination.

A finance ministry spokesman has refused to comment.

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