Higher Education Funding Agency Current Affairs - 2020

Centre to raise Health Services Expenditure to 2.5% of GDP by 2025

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan while addressing a query during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha announced that Government has set a target to raise health services expenditure to 2.5% of country’s GDP (Gross domestic product) by 2025. He also highlighted that public expenditure on health services has increased continuously over the years and continues to increase.

Key Highlights

The government’s objective is in line with National Health Policy 2017 which envisages increasing public health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.

The policy also recommends that State governments should spend more than 8% of their budget on health sector by 2020.

Steps taken by Government:

Under Aayushman Bharat programme ( or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana or National Health Protection Scheme), Government envisions setting up 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres by 2022 and out of this 18,000-19,000 have already been established. These centres will boost healthcare facilities in country’s Urban as well as rural areas.

The 3% Education Cess on personal income tax and corporation tax to is already replaced with 4% Health and Education Cess so as to cater to education and health needs of poor and rural families.

Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) has also started supporting infrastructure works of medical institutions.

HEFA approves projects of 6 higher education institutions to improve the research infrastructure

The Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) has approved projects worth over Rs. 2,066 crore for six higher educational institutions to improve the research infrastructure and further their standing at global level. These six institutes are IITs Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur and NIT Suratkal.

Decision in this regard was taken at 2nd HEFA Board meeting chaired by Chairmanship of Secretary Higher Education. The approved funds will be in addition to grants being given to these institutions by the government.

Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA)

HEFA was set in September 2016 after it received Cabinet approval to provide financial assistance to institutes of higher education in addition to grants given by Union Ministry of Human Resources Development. It has authorised capital of Rs. 2000 crore. Government equity in it is Rs.1000 crore.

It is not-for-profit organisation that will leverage funds from market and supplement them with donations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. These funds will be used to finance improvement in infrastructure in top institutions and will be serviced through internal accruals.

Modalities of operation of HEFA

HEFA is novel method for funding premier institutions by using instrument of securitising future flows. Under it, each institution agrees to escrow specific amount from their internally earned resources and not through government grants.

This forms basis for credit line which can be used by institution for creating required capital and research assets. The Principal portion is repaid from escrowed amount and interest is met by Government. For institution, this is interest-free amount and gives facility to institution to build the required research infrastructure of world class.

Operationalisation of HEFA

HEFA was registered as Section – 8 Company under Companies Act in May 2017. Canara Bank was identified as partner for setting up Company. RBI also has granted license under RBI Act for HEFA to operate as Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) in November 2017 and to leverage equity to mobilise money from market as per requirements of the institutions.