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Budget 2022 Expectations: Healthcare firms seek reduction in GST, import duties; ease in FDI rules

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present the Budget 2022 on February 1. 

Budget 2022 Expectations: Healthcare firms seek reduction in GST, import duties; ease in FDI rules

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to present the Budget 2022 on February 1. With just a few days left for the Budget presentation, experts from several industries have put forward their requests. As far as healthcare is concerned, founders of healthcare companies and experts are seeking a reduction in GST and import duties, along with simplification of foreign direct investment (FDI) norms. 

Amit Sharma, Founder and CEO at eExpedise Healthcare said, "This year's budget is crucial and we expect concrete policies, framework and investments for affordable and accessible healthcare from the government. One way the government can do this is through reduced GST on healthcare products and services by keeping life-saving drugs at the lowest GST bracket and having “zero-rating” of GST for health care services. 

“The government should work on the Private Public Partnership PPP model for better infrastructure, research & innovation to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible for the masses. We also are looking forward to more investment and planning on the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). Targeted incentives and tax holidays should be given to the healthcare and allied sectors for making India as a leading destination," Sharma added.

Meanwhile, Anika Parashar, Founder and CEO, The Woman Company, said, "The Union Budget should emphasise on Women wellness - especially menstrual hygiene. We already have tax exemption on sanitary pads, however, this could be extended to manufacturing and production. Further, decreasing import duties for raw materials could bridge the gap between supply and demand as well encourage more Indian manufacturers to start manufacturing biodegradable pads in the country.” 

“There should be policy level incentivisation for Made In India products, start-ups helmed by women and ventures that focus on sustainability and solving for women's issues. The Government should promote the use of biodegradable menstrual products to bring down waste produced by plastic products – a figure which currently stands at a staggering 12.3 billion annually. We also expect the government to improve digital infrastructure in Tier II, III cities, and rural regions so that the next group of consumers can enter the D2C ecosystem," she added.

Also, functional Nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and Founder of iThrive, said, “The FDI investment process should be simplified, and taxation-related compliances should be kept to a minimum.” Also Read: Moved to a new house? Here's how to change address in your Voter ID card online

“As the medical industry does not pay GST and wellness being a part of it, the GST rate for wellness services should be 5% rather than the current 18%. In terms of GST, the wellness industry should be on par with the business industry,” Pradhan added. Also Read: Phone storage full? Here's how to create more space

Ashutosh Kaushik, Interim CEO, FRHS India and CAG member for Pratigya Campaign said, “The FY2021 budget announced a 137% increase in healthcare spending to address some of the gaps. Healthcare accounted for about 1.8% of GDP in 2021. We should aim to raise it to at least 3.5% of GDP this year. While COVID-19 pandemic is important and there has to be a focus, it is equally important to increase the proportion of spending on other aspects like SRHR services considering medical abortion pills and abortion access to ensure safe abortion practices for long term. This would reduce rates of adolescent pregnancy, increase awareness for birth spacing which will provide a critical window for mothers to have healthier, safer pregnancies. Furthermore, the budget should focus on increasing the budget for family welfare to ensure adequate supply of contraceptives methods and Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) to meet reproductive health needs. Investing in promoting health education in schools and colleges to enable adolescents to take charge of their own health needs. Strengthen response to gender-based violence, a growing public health concern.”

Also, Debanjana Choudhuri, gender and climate justice specialist said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the significance of having a robust healthcare system in the country. The healthcare sector, which has proven to be a shield against the pandemic since 2020, seeks increased outlays in expenditure in the upcoming Union Budget 2022. Healthcare allocation must be raised to achieve govt plans of spending 2.5% of GDP by 2025. There is an immediate need to increase the allocation for health expenditure to atleast 2.5%-3.5% of the GDP. The issues that exited last year continues to exist and therefore it is important to establish quality health care services across the country, and increase investments in sexual and reproductive health, while also bringing about focus to contraceptive and safe abortion access in particular by expanding the provider base and prioritizing women’s health, which will have positive impact on the overall health of the country.”

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