Amid huge expectations from every quarter, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled Union Budget 2019-20 in the parliament. The Budget aimed at creating new India with major focus on infrastructure, development and technology. There was no major announcement pertaining to healthcare sector, except mentioning of creating healthy society via Ayushman Bharat in the budget.
Here is how experts have reacted over the Union Budget:
Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus
The budget comes as an indication that it is taking a comprehensive approach in the healthcare and wellness segment, and I think it is aimed in the right direction. The government’s continuous focus on the Ayushman Bharat scheme will further help in providing extensive medical care and reinforce the commitment to universal healthcare for all citizens. Apart from this, the announcement to boost Artificial Intelligence will strengthen the usage of technology in the field of healthcare and it will intensify the quality in healthcare with accessibility and affordability.
Dr Rajeev Boudhankar-CEO, Bhatia Hospital
- Incentives for electric vehicles in terms of subsidy on loans as well as lowering of GST from 12% to 5% on electric vehicles, will help reduce air pollution over a period of time. This will help control heart diseases, respiratory illness, and cancers.
- The 100% FDI in insurance intermediaries along with streamlining of Labour laws will help boost health insurance and thereby healthcare industry. This will increase healthcare insurance coverage and boost investment in new hospitals.
- National Research Foundation for higher research will help indigenous research in pharmaceutical industry, bio-medical industry, innovation in indigenous treatments modalities. etc
- Internet connectivity with all gram sabhas will give impetus to private sector to invest in tele-medicine through PPP mode.
- Safe drinking water for all households by 2024 through “Jal Shakti Mantralaya” will help control water borne diseases in India. This will be aided by the “Toilets for all” scheme that will reduce oro-feacal route diseases.
Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, President, NATHEALTH
Union Budget 2019 appears to be comprehensive, wide-ranging and balanced with many positives for the economy. However, going forward the government needs to revisit unfinished agenda such as ‘Priority Sector’ status to Healthcare for smooth credit flow, mandatory universal health insurance, tax incentives for capacity building, creation of a dedicated infrastructure and innovation fund.
Siddhartha Bhattacharya, Secretary General, NATHEALTH
A healthy India will be a prerequisite to a 5 trillion dollar economy. NATHEALTH would like to underline the need for making healthcare an integrated part of the policy and fiscal planning with adequate investments to achieve this vision. We are pleased with the focus on ease of living in this budget and believe that the health sector can play a pivotal role across the broad pillars of economic growth, skilled employment and ease of living themes.
Gautam Khanna, CEO, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC
India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a pro-development 2019-20 budget with a focus on building physical and social Infrastructure. Most initiatives or reforms mentioned in this year’s budget are focused on making India a USD 5 trillion economy in the next few years. Although there have been no direct mentions for the healthcare industry, the proposed Rs 100 lakh crore investment in infrastructure in the next 5 years could pave way for a boost in the healthcare segment. The 100 percent allowance of FDI for insurance intermediaries could also benefit the healthcare industry indirectly.
The government wishes to move towards building a healthy India with the continuity of the Ayushman Bharat scheme and the proposal to expand the Swachh Bharat mission by means of sustainable waste management and building of more toilets thus aiming India to be open defecation free by this year, is a worthy objective.
Government’s initiative “ Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” by creating more digital awareness and facilities may help in the growth of telemedicine in the future. National Research foundation to promote overall research may give a fillip to overall Medical/clinical research in the country in the long term.
The initiatives on Ease of doing business for Startups and an overall boost to entrepreneurship will hopefully promote low-cost, indigenous, innovative models for healthcare delivery and may help in the growth of the med tech/Healthcare industry by providing affordable care to the Indian population .
Jitendra Haryan, CEO, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre
The union budget was less inclined towards popularity and focussed on reforms. It was evident from the budget that the government is systematically giving significant importance to digitalization and the growth of infrastructure. However, unfortunately healthcare didn’t find any mention in the budget presented today. It would have been good to see GST coming down on health insurance to promote it further. Additionally, Govt could have also taken some steps to incentivise private healthcare sector to boost the investment sentiment.