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Budget 2013: Grant industry status to the health care sector, says Rajat Goel

Rajat Goel, CEO and Co-Founder, Eye-Q says inclusive growth should be the focus of the budget and it should be reflected in defining the budget spends across key sectors.

Manasi Mithel        Last Updated: February 15, 2013  | 12:24 IST

Rajat Goel, CEO and Co-Founder, Eye-Q,  a super-speciality eye care chain spoke to Manasi Mithel on his expectations from the Budget.

Q. Given the current challenges, what, in your opinion, would make for a good budget? What measures or proposals would you like to see?
Inclusive growth should be the focus of the budget and it should be reflected in defining the budget spends across key sectors including health-care and infrastructure. Also, many reforms that have been talked about in the past, including in the insurance sector, need to be brought in at the earliest. Lastly, the government should work closely with the private sector to improve efficiency as that can help provide solutions to many issues that are being faced currently.

Q. Given the constraints the government faces in raising revenue, do you see a case to increase income tax rates on the rich?
The question is not whether the government needs to raise revenue but that it needs to work towards bringing in higher efficiencies in the current spend and boost economy for inclusive growth. At Eye-Q, as one of the pioneers in taking the best of technology and medical skills to the hinterland of India, we have seen that higher efficiency from the same revenue is the key to success.

Q. If the budget does not meet expectations, do you fear that business sentiment would once again dip?
Government policies definitely have a huge role to play in building positive sentiment among all stakeholders including the business community. However, policy making is not restricted to the budget but is an ever-evolving exercise. While a positive budget will have a role to play in building positive sentiment, it is imperative for the government to look at building positive sentiment through growth-oriented policies on a regular basis.

Q. Specific to your sector, what could the current budget do to improve conditions?

  • A.No service tax on health services: The health-care sector has benefited from the exemption of service tax and, hopefully, service tax would not be imposed this year as well. The government needs to consider that health-care services are already expensive for the common man, and that further taxes would only make them inaccessible.
  • More investment to train doctors: The government needs to invest more in the health-care sector. Creating more medical colleges is a necessity today. With a population of 1.2 billion, our country needs more doctors and specialists to accommodate the growing health-care needs of the people.
  • Industry status for health-care sector: All heavy investment and long-gestation industries should get industry status so that we can get long-term loan at special rates.
  • Lower duty on import of machinery: Hospitals and clinics depend on machinery to a large extent. The government should lower the tax on import of equipment essential for treatments. India needs international standards of medical facilities to offer quality health-care services, and taxes should not become a barrier to achieving that. Ultimately, it will benefit patients - they won't have to pay a higher price for the services and will also get the best available treatment.

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