Satish Reddy, the managing director and chief operating officer of Dr Reddy's Laboratories, says the Indian pharmaceutical industry needs measures that will encourage research and innovation.
Q: Given the current challenges, what would your idea of a good budget be? For instance, what measures or proposals would you like to see?
A: This is the time to focus on growth. Look at ways to boost growth, put an end to uncertainty, improve speed of decision-making and cut down delays. If the "animal spirits" of the industry are to operate there also has to be the right environment - with initiatives that build confidence.
Q: Given the constraints the government faces in raising revenue, do you see a case to increase income tax rates on the rich? Please identify the cut-off in income beyond which you would classify the person as rich.
A: That would be a populist thing to do. But will it yield results in terms of bringing down the fiscal deficit? Instead the focus should be on expanding the tax net, improving efficiency in tax collection.
Q: If the budget does not meet expectations, do you fear that business sentiment would once again dip?
A: Obviously, it would hit business sentiment.
Q: Specific to your sector, what could the current budget do to improve conditions?
A: One, there could be a move towards reaching the goal of universal health coverage. Secondly, the Indian pharmaceutical industry needs measures that will encourage research and innovation. In the past, several funds have been announced for this, and it may be good to look at how they have performed. Take stock of that and come forward with some bold measures that encourage research and innovation. For instance, aggressively support and fund those taking up research and innovation in streams of medicine that could have a huge impact for the people in India.
Q:Which budget, in the recent past, do you remember as having been a good one?
A: I do not recall any from the recent past.
Q:Do you expect a business-friendly budget?
A: No. It may have a few feel-good provisions but populist at the end of the day given the coming elections.