The Union Budget 2017-18 has set good macro health targets but no concrete measures have been taken to accelerate medical devices manufacturing under the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India, says Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD), as he analysis the efficacy of the various steps taken by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to boost medical devices sector.
“Though Hon’ble Finance Minister in his budget statement has not specified the increase requested for basic import duty of at least 10% on medical devices, however, it’s heartening to hear that new rules regarding medical devices regulations will be formulated and the cost of medical devices will be reduced. But what remains to be seen is how serious is the government’s intent to spruce up manufacturing in the 70% import dependent ( 90% for medical electronics) import dependent medical devices industry,” says Nath.
However, he suggests several new measures that the government can incorporate in drafting the new rules and regulations for medical devices that can help push the sector’s growth.
“For medical devices, AiMeD has consistently been stating for a nominal duty protection of at least 10% for those items where exports are over Rs 5 crore and at least 7.5% for the rest. The government may also consider to put a 1% Cess as Excise Duty on the MRP of the devices payable by importers and manufacturers to act as a disincentive for keeping excessively high MRP prices,” Nath suggests.
The AiMeD Forum Coordinator also says that ban on import of second-hand medical equipment and electronics even if refurbished should be put in place till such time “we have a strong regulatory frame work to ensure patient safety by way of protection from radiation or inaccurate results by validation, calibration and testing”.
“Does government allow import of second hand cars? No? If it will allow the huge investments that are in automotive sector will stop and car manufacturing will suffer. Our PM did not permit Apple to bring in preowned phones — so why allow for medical devices?” He asks.
AiMeD also wishes that Customs should enforce country of origin label on unit pack of sales.
In order to boost domestic production of quality devices, the medical devices makers also demand that the government releases a Preferential Market Access Buy Indian Policy (like Telecom and beyond) to Indian manufactured product for public health procurement having over 40% value addition and ICMED Certification.
“Government gives a 15% Preferential Pricing for Indian Origin Medical Devices (like being done for World Bank Financed Tenders) to counter Chinese subsidy of 17% . If the government can consider to do this with World Bank money, why not for its own money? As someone said aptly ‘Let’s put India First to Make India First’,” says Nath.