The Finance Minister could have done a lot more to bring in the much needed fillip for healthcare sector. The Rs 33,000 crore outlay looks conservative. The announcement of five new AIIMS across states will help improve access to quality tertiary healthcare to a large segment of population. The increase in the limit of healthcare insurance is a right step that will encourage a larger number of people to get insured and reduce out-of-pocket spending on healthcare, which is a prominent cause of households slipping into debt.
The reduction of corporate tax in the context of reducing exemptions and tax incentives is welcome as this is being done with an intent to simplify tax laws and reduce the immense litigation that prevails in the current tax regime. Whether this results in a reduction of tax avoidance, we will need to wait till the details on removal of exemptions and incentives are revealed. Overall, however, this should send a positive message to the investor community from the point of view of “ease of doing business” in India.
The reduction of custom duties for raw materials is also a positive step to encourage “Make in India”. The reiteration of implementing the GST in April 2016 is applaudable and we look forward to the new regime. In the long term, the government should do more to lower the cost of healthcare and improve access and link its “Swacch Bharat” campaign to “Swasth Bharat.