#Budget2021: Industry stakeholders list their expectations

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New Delhi: The key stakeholders of the bioscience industry have got huge expectations from the budget 2021 all set to be presented by the union finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. The demands range from tax rebates to increased funding allocations and from special incentives for startups to improvements in existing models.
Talking about the expectations of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India says, “In recent months, the Government has showcased its commitment to improving healthcare delivery models and infrastructure, as well as taken solid steps to move towards its vision of providing healthcare to all. The sector performed well all through 2020 while battling the pandemic. We are expecting a healthcare-focused budget which is a need of the hour. We expect the government to especially focus on primary healthcare infrastructure that needs huge improvement in terms of improved access to healthcare for low-income households.”
According to Arindam Haldar, CEO, Thyrocare Technologies, the pandemic has given rise to the realization that basic healthcare which is a fundamental human right has to be made accessible, affordable, and of high standards to meet the rising need in the country. “Healthcare infrastructure needs an overhaul, and the COVID crisis has emphasized higher allocation for the sector. The Union Budget this year calls for higher investment and boost to meet the public health requirements of the citizens. Funding in hospitals, diagnostics, ambulatory services, and pharmacies is imperative in order to ensure growth in the sector. The importance of a strong healthcare system is the need of the hour, wherein strong investments in public-private partnerships, research and developments and the overall ecosystem are a must.”
As per Meena Ganesh, MD and CEO, Portea Medical, “Government must ramp up the medical as well as training infrastructure in a big way. The best and fastest way to ensure quality healthcare access in the rural India is through e-health/e-medicine services. Funds must be allocated towards skill development of teachers, nurses, paramedical staff and caregivers. Further, by making budget allocations for development of telemedicine and home-based healthcare ecosystem in the country, it is possible to best harness the available resources to cover the whole country. This can be done through a public-private partnership in a speedier and more effective manner.”
Vikas Bagaria, Founder, Pee Safe, says, “The taxation sector in India is still complicated and despite all the efforts, early-stage funding/seed funding for startups continues to be a major challenge in the first five years. Thus, the government’s support and easing of norms in this area will be highly beneficial for the government’s Make in India initiative alongside the Vocal for Local campaigns which have now become the need of the hour. Imports are hit and Indian, as well as global supply chains, are moving away from China and the foreign investment as well as innovations by Indian startups can rightly make the country the next economic powerhouse as well as help India become a 5 trillion dollar economy as envisioned by the Prime Minister.”
According to Shumita Kakkar, Founder, United We Care, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of changes to the way we live and interact with others in society. However, it is time for us to recover and move ahead constructively. The government’s budgetary support and initiatives are set to play a key role in this arena. There is a need to integrate technology driven start-ups in its action plan to boost the physical, financial and mental health of the public. There must be a multi-pronged approach starting from making cheaper finances available to e-platforms, foreign and institutional investments simpler and more attractive and policy support to start-ups. This is more so for those engaged in aiding the mental and social health of the public. Mental health consultations and support services can be given tax exemptions and incentives to expand their coverage and employ more consultants.
Nilesh Aggarwal Director & CEO, Medtalks.in says the time is right to revamp the Indian healthcare sector through budgetary infusions. “India’s healthcare budget in terms of GDP ratio has been abysmal until now, and the chinks in the armour were thoroughly exposed by the pandemic outbreak. The time has come for the government to scale up the investments in healthcare and create budgetary provisions for capacity building and supporting technology driven healthcare start-ups from the private sector as well.”
The Indian medical and pharmaceuticals sector depends greatly on China for APIs and imports a lot of medical devices. The government needs to support Indian companies to overcome this need by supporting domestic manufacture of equipment and medicines. This is a great opportunity for Indian healthcare sector to replace China as the global hub of commerce and for that the government needs to proactively facilitate financial input. There has to be a support for private sector investments as well in the healthcare industry.
As per Tapan Barman, Co-founder and CEO, Mihup, “After the recent pandemic, it is time to look forward. The road to recovery is bound to be built by technology and start-ups need strong backing from the government in terms of financial support in the budget. The pandemic has driven the global companies to look at India as an alternate to China in terms of technology and manufacturing. By simplifying things such as taxation and investment and offering further incentives to Indian start-ups, the government can help in helping them generate more revenue and employment. Development of cutting-edge technologies should be incentivized and the government can further enhance innovation in technology and manufacturing sectors.”
Dr Gaurav Gupta, Co-founder, Navia Life Care – a digital healthcare startup said, “The upcoming 2020-21 Union Budget has the potential of being a game-changer for the Indian Healthcare Sector. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions as a viable option to conventional care delivery systems. Be it efficient management of COVID-19 and vaccination or achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage, Digital Health would be great enablers with the right policy push. The health sector is expecting more specific allotments in this year’s budget to mitigate Covid and the growth of the telemedicine sector.”
Calling for the top priority to healthcare in the 2021 budget, Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD and CEO, Fortis Healthcare said, “Healthcare should be given top priority in the 2021 budget. There is an urgent need to fast-track the recovery of private healthcare providers, support infrastructure building, facilitate medical research and invest in biotech whilst enhancing the skill development of healthcare workers.”
Ashutosh added, “This is an opportunity to offset the challenges and gaps in our healthcare system by allocating more resources to encourage the PPP model, push digital health, boost local manufacturing of healthcare equipment, take steps to improve the patient-doctor ratio and encourage scientific costing and market-based fair pricing. Our strategy must integrate preventive and curative services, and make healthcare more affordable for the people of India.”