Govt to form regulatory authority for National Health Assurance Mission
National Health Assurance Mission (NHAM), which the Centre plans to roll out next year, will be accountable to people for deficiencies in delivery and a regulatory authority will be formed to oversee enforcement of the norms, the government announced.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Centre would institutionalize a regulatory authority with vast powers to oversee enforcement of all-round quality standards and for consumer protection under NHAM.
“NHAM is going to be the biggest-ever health outreach with universal health insurance as a strong component. While quantitatively India will leapfrog into a new era, quality should not be compromised. Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive,” he said.
Insisting that “the principles of consumer protection will come into play,” Vardhan said, “I want to make transparency, efficiency, compassion and accountability the pillars of the public health system when NHAM is operationalized next year.”
Under NHAM, people will be provided with health insurance. The facility will be given free of cost to the poor. It will be launched in phases.
No service tax on food at air-conditioned restaurants: HC
It seems one will now not have to pay extra tax for food and beverages consumed at either an air-conditioned restaurant or an airconditioned restaurant run alongside a bar. A division bench of the Kerala high court said that the Union government’s decision to impose service tax on food and beverages served at such restaurants was not within the competence of Parliament. Customers otherwise have to pay 12.36 per cent service tax on 40 per cent of the total bill amount.
Upholding a single judge order, the division bench said: “It cannot be said that it is an activity of service. When the said activity is deemed to be a sale of the food and other articles of human consumption by a constitutional definition, tax on the said activity can be imposed only by the state.”
The court said that the bill raised on the customer cannot be split as charged for the service part and as charged for the food part, though it may be part of the service that she renders by providing good furniture, furnishings, fixtures, linen, crockery and cutlery.
The Union government had moved the HC in appeal against the single bench order. The Kerala Bar Hotels Association’s argument was that the supply of food and beverages in a restaurant was a sale, enabling states to impose tax on the same. These hotels have been paying turnover tax on the sale of food and beverages besides luxury tax on the amounts charged from the customers for accommodation.
The HC further said that states alone had the legislative competence to enact any law imposing tax on this issue.