Vacciness have actually been, and are being, procured by and paid for by the Centre, the finance ministry said

It is "factually incorrect" to state that there is no provision for expenditure on COVID-19 vaccination by the Central Government, the Union Ministry of Finance said on Monday.

The ministry came out with a detailed statement clarifying the actual situation after a media report in ‘The Print’ titled “The reality of Modi Government’s vaccine funding: Rs. 35,000 crore for States, zero for Centre”.

According to the Finance Ministry, the amount of Rs. 35,000 crore has been shown under the Demand for Grants No. 40, titled ‘Transfers to States’.

"Vacciness have actually been, and are being, procured by and paid for by the Centre through this head of account," the ministry said.

It added that the use of this Demand for Grants had several administrative advantages. "Firstly, because expenditure on vaccine is one-off expenditure outside the normal Centrally Sponsored Schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds," the ministry pointed out.

This grant is also exempted from the quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands. This helps to ensure that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme.

The ministry also explained how this process works.

The amount provided under this head for vaccinations is actually operated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. "Vaccines are passed on to the States as grants in kind and the actual administration of vaccines is being done by States," the finance ministry said

Further, there is enough administrative flexibility to change the nature of the Scheme between grants in kind and other forms of grants.

Therefore, as pointed out in the report itself, for ensuring adequate availability of funding for vaccination, the “budget classification does not really matter”.

"The use of the Demand titled ‘Transfers to States’ in no way implies that expenditure cannot be incurred by the Centre," the Ministry of Finance maintained.