Tamil Nadu's AIADMK government, which has included thousands of crores worth of freebies such as 6 LPG cylinders per year, solar cooktops, washing machines, a government job per family, education loan waiver, housing for all, among others is now crying foul over the new vaccine pricing.
Via a letter to the Prime Minister, chief minister K Palaniswami has joined the list of chief ministers and leaders who have expressed their displeasure over the increased rates quoted by vaccine manufacturers to state governments.
The cost of vaccination for the first and second phase of India's inoculation drive, meant for frontline workers and those aged above 45 (with comorbidities) respectively was funded by the central government. However, the third phase of the country's vaccination drive targeting those between ages 18 and 45, is to be funded by the respective states.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palaniswami said that the differential rice mechanism is inherently unfair since it places a higher financial burden on states.
"Since budgetary revision of Rs 35,000 crore has been made in the Budget estimates for 2021-22 for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, states have a legitimate expectation that the Government of India would supply the Covid-19 vaccine phase-3," he said.
It was also emphasized that states had lesser fiscal resources at their command than the central government.
The chief minister requested the central government to procure and supply all the vaccines required for the third phase of inoculation. It also urged the Government of India to explore the option of importing vaccines, to ensure smooth and expeditious rollout.
Interestingly, Tamil Nadu is the state that wasted the most number of vaccines in the first two phases of the pan-India drive, all of which were provided free-of-cost by the central government. However, in October 2020, much before the vaccines were even available, chief minister Palaniswami had promised that everyone in the state would be provided free vaccines at the expense of their government.