Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director, Biocon, looks closely at the Budget announcements every year in the hope that among other things there would be a few welcome measures announced for the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. However, this time too, the budget was a bit of disappointment for the pharma sector.
"It was disappointing to see the absence of any additional allocation for healthcare or incentives for science and technology," she says. But she still thinks that this is not a letdown as at a time such as this, a budget that leaves the industry untouched is also good news.
However, Shaw thinks that the patients have been let down because they could have been given some sops as others got Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption on NCD drugs and diagnostics.
Speaking to Business Today, she calls Budget 2019 as an election year budget that tries to please different sections of the vote bank. For instance, she says, there is something for everyone, from farmers to traders, the MSME segment, and workers in unorganised sector to the salaried middle class. Shaw had predicted raising of tax relief for income up to Rs 5 lakh.
She feels the income tax relief will boost urban demand and the assured income scheme for small farmers will lead to revival in rural consumption, both of which augur well for overall economic revival. She, however, feels what does stand out in the budget and could be seen as a new idea is the pension scheme for the unorganised sector workers. "To give them a pension after the age of 60 is a good measure as it will provide a social security net for nearly 10 crore Indians and will bring them under a registered jobs database, which will give some idea of the jobs in the unorganised sector," she said.
Going forward, the fiscal deficit and inflationary pressures would have to be watched more carefully, but she does credit the government for doing well to balance the populist tone of the Budget by signalling its commitment to stick to the road of fiscal discipline. She also feels something could have been done for the start-ups sector. "An Angel tax holiday for 10 years was expected but it did not happen."