Another welcome announcement is the decision to introduce GST from the beginning of next financial year, which is expected to make manufacturing in India more competitive. The infrastructure push and proposal to facilitate 'ease of doing business' are all encouraging announcements prima facie, but one has to analyse the recommendations in detail.
In addition, the Finance Minister has provided strong impetus to inclusive growth by significantly investing in the long-term drivers of the economy such as education, skill development and growth of the rural economy.
The Finance Minister has also announced a slew of tax measures and personal savings schemes aimed at benefitting the taxpayer and the common man. The proposal to work towards creating a universal social security system for all Indians, especially the poor and the under-privileged, is a positive announcement.
The Budget is encouraging for the healthcare industry in terms of extension of health cover and measures to boost health insurance. The increase in health insurance premium will enable people to seek out quality healthcare, which has been an area of concern in our country.
The proposal to set up AIIMS in five new states along with additional National Institute of Pharmaceuticals Education and Research and Institute of Science and Education Research are expected to address the shortage of doctors and skilled staff. Also, senior citizens have been given many incentives in this Budget especially when it comes to healthcare, which needs to be appreciated.
So, the Budget is definitely positive for the healthcare sector, but like some of the other preceding Budgets, this year too, there were no specific measures announced for the pharmaceutical sector. Pharmaceutical is a key sector that requires a major thrust from the government and should be given importance in the Budget as well.
Although the Finance Minister has mentioned in his speech about fostering a culture of innovation, R&D and scientific research in India; unfortunately measures to encourage pharmaceutical research were not announced. Research-based pharmaceutical companies like us expected a host of measures like increasing the weighted tax deduction on R&D from the current 200 per cent, which were missing from the proposals. The government's support for innovation R&D is required in the form of tax incentives, regulations and grants for various research projects in the sector.
But overall, the Finance Minister deserves full marks for presenting a well-balanced, growth oriented Budget. So, we can conclude that the Budget is definitely positive on intent but now execution is key.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The author is Chairman & MD, Glenmark