That government expenditure on India’s healthcare sector is abysmally low and has been so for the past many years, is widely known. Any hopes that the present government would ramp it up significantly were dashed to pieces with finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech in Parliament last Saturday. The allocation for 2015-16
stood at slightly over ?33,000 crore, which means it would remain at 2012-13 levels for the coming financial year as well. This is in sharp contrast to the National Health Policy 2015 document, released by the Union government in December, where the government expenditure on healthcare is projected to increase from the current 1.04
per cent of GDP to 2.5 per cent in the next five years. The document also envisages a seven-fold growth of the healthcare industry as a whole (including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, etc) by 2020.
As can be expected, the responses from various segments of the healthcare industry ranged from cautious optimism to total disappointment. The CEOs of many companies chose to focus more on general points such as the rollout of goods & services tax, the slight reduction in corporate tax, etc, rather than talk about their own industry.
SUMIT GHOSHAL [email protected]
forum co-ordinator, AIMED (Association of Indian Medical Device Manufacturers): The FM dwelt in some detail about measures to
encourage manufacturing. But were his
proposals at par with the expectations generated till now? I am sorry to say, the budget does not match the intentions or optimism generated till date. Intentions galore but the fineprint was missing.
MD, Apollo Hospitals group: Overall, this has been a forward-looking and stable Budget. A lot more, however, needs to be done in terms of providing physical and educational infrastructure that supports the healthcare sector. This has to be done in partnership with and by giving incentives to the private sector that has been providing nearly 70 per cent of the additional beds in India.
CEO, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai: All told, healthcare did not seem a focus area for the government. The total budget of ?33,150 crore is not a significant increase over the previous year.
The ‘ AliMS proposals are good but the tax exemption for health insurance will not help those who do rjot have insurance in the first place. Besides, one noticed a lost opportunity in PPP options.
CMD, Aster DM Healthcare: Increase in the visa on arrival facility to nearly 150 countries will have a positive impact , on inflow of tourists to India on a broader level and will benefit the healthcare sector by more flow for
health tourism. Insurance coverage would get a boost with the tax exemptions on health insurance premiums being hiked from ?15,000 to ?25,000.