Budget could have delivered more in healthcare

healthNEW DELHI: Healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have welcomed steps announced in the Budget to increase allotment on health and medical education.
However, private players expressed concern that Finance Minister P Chidambaram could have provided support in the form of tax incentives as well.
Commenting on the Budget, Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy told PTI: “We are happy about increase in allotment of funds for healthcare and medical education, training and research.”
In the Budget 2013-14, Rs 37,330 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of this, the new National Health Mission that combines the rural mission and the proposed urban mission will get Rs 21,239 crore, an increase of 24.3 per cent over the revised estimate.
Moreover, another Rs 4,727 crore has been provided towards medical education, training and research.
Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) President and CMD Novartis India Ranjit Shahani said the increased allocation for the health mission is a welcome step.
He, however, added: “We were hoping the Budget would breathe some life into the economy. The expectations of a big bang announcement to restart the economy were belied expectations were high…”
Welcoming the overall steps taken in the Budget, Jubilant Life Sciences Co-chairman & MD Hari S Bhartia said: “A number of initiatives specially on infrastructure including investment allowance, increased focus on social sector, education, skills , financial sector, agriculture, rural economy would fuel growth.”
Yet, the industry players felt there could have been more sector specific incentives.
“As private healthcare providers, we were expecting support for building capacity in the sector as there is a huge shortage of beds and education with increasing challenges from the non communicable diseases (NCDs). There is also the need for tax incentives for the healthcare industry,” Reddy said.
Expressing similar sentiments, Fortis Healthcare Executive Vice-Chairman Shivinder Mohan Singh said: “I think keeping in mind this fiscal deficit there is nothing much that you could have expected, and really healthcare is getting short shift for a while and I think it’s going to continue for a while.”
Similarly, SRL Diagnostics Managing Director Sanjeev K Chaudhry felt that private sector which serves 75 per cent of the healthcare diagnostics responsibility for the country has not been given its due in the Budget.
“The long standing industry demands for providing fiscal relief for consumables and tax incentives for accreditation have yet been given a miss,” Chaudhry said. -PTI

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