Govt to form reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity for Na­tional Health As­sur­ance Mis­sion

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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.

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