In its Pre-Budget Memorandum, OPPI proposed budgetary/ fiscal measures and support in the following five key areas:
- Infrastructure building
- Improving access to medicines
- Reduction in transaction costs
- Incentivising R&D
- Reduction in tax burden and other measures
Unfortunately, there is nothing significant in this budget
for the healthcare sector, as such. However, we appreciate the following announcements of the Finance Minister in his budget speech:
- Increased budgetary allocation for National Rural and Urban Health Mission may improve access. However, a planned allocation on 'Universal Health Coverage' initiative was highly expected.
The scope of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) has been expanded to widen its coverage, which is also expected to have an impact in improving access to healthcare for the marginalized section of the society.
Following other proposals of the Finance Minister are also laudable and could benefit the Industry in the longer term:
- Increased budgetary allocation for Medical Studies.
- Expansion of medical care facilities for women and differently abled
- Increased allocation for geriatric care
- Setting up of Indian Institute of Biotechnology
- Allocation of fund for products based on science and technology innovations
The Industry also expected that Government will take measures to make all imported life-saving drugs more affordable to the patients by eliminating the import duty. Unfortunately, this has not happened.
Thus, in our view, the healthcare concerns of the country have not been given adequate importance in the Union Budget proposals for 2013-14 to help improving the healthcare needs of the nation.