Agartala: Two days after the Tripura government announced service tax in government-run hospitals in the district level and referral hospitals, the opposition parties have come out in protest opposing the decision of the government.
Speaking with reporters in front of Congress Bhawan, former Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Gopal Chandra Roy said that the move to impose service tax over the poor and weak section people visiting the government hospitals has shocked everyone.
“This is a shameful decision taken by the state government. We are opposing it. We have organised a protest rally against the decision taken by Biplab Kumar Deb-led BJP-IPFT government. This is a shameful and ‘anti-human’ decision of the government”, Roy said.
He also said that this move of the government is to convert the government hospitals into private hospitals. “We oppose and condemn this move of the state government. The government immediately has to withdraw this circular or else the movement will be getting stronger. We will not stop unless the government revokes the decision. The situation is getting poor in the state. Poor people are in danger. We will force the government to revoke it,” Roy said.
He also alleged that on Sunday a poor labourer died after his family failed in paying the money for his operation at G B Pant Hospital.
Meanwhile, PCC president Pradyot Deb Barman has appealed the state government for an all-party meeting over the issue. “I propose that as opposition we must demand an all-party discussion on how to ensure that there is a rethink by the state government. The healthcare in the previous govt was in shambles we should be upgrading the system and making sure that medicines, doctors are available round the clock instead of simply putting a fee on the poor patients,” he said.
“Healthcare under government should be obligatory to the citizens of the state. I appeal the government to listen to the voices of opposition we also have a view, kindly as a democratic government listen to us”, he added
On the other hand, major opposition CPI(M) also took out a protest rally against the decision of the state government and organised a sit-in demonstration in front of the health directorate office on Monday.
Speaking with the reporters, CPI(M) West Tripura district committee secretary Pabitra Kar said that Biplab Kumar Deb government has imposed the tax in the government hospitals which is inhuman and has resulted in the death of one daily labourer Paresh Modak since he could not pay for his treatment to the hospital.
“Our protest will continue unless the government revokes their decision. This is not a good decision. We are opposing it,” Kar said.
The secretary of Amra Bangali Tripura chapter, too, said the decision of increasing the tax in the government hospital by the BJP-led government is not all acceptable. “We are opposing the decision. The government should withdraw it or else we will go into a mass protest,” he said.
Reacting on the issue, BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha said that the government has just announced and is yet to impose the service tax. “This is baseless allegation. No one has died due to the decision of the state government. This is very shameless if the opposition leaders have alleged [accused] the government for the death,” he said.
Earlier chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb said the decision was taken so that people who are receiving free health services at the moment starts enrolling their names to get the Ayushman Bharat cards.
“Over 20.57 lakh people from over 5.9 lakh families are eligible to enroll themselves under the Ayushman Bharat scheme but at present only 4.67 people are registered under the scheme. Had they been registered under the schemes, then the allocated money of up to Rs 5 lakh would have been received by the state government,” Deb said.
We have not imposed any service tax, rather we have started a system, so that people start registering themselves and use the Ayushman card to pay their expenses and the money which is being provided from the Centre comes to the state, the CM said.
“With just a change in the system, the services will remain free and the state will also start receiving the money to develop the health sector across the state,” Deb added.