Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is slated to propose the Union Budget for 2023-24 in Parliament on February 1. Even though the entire country is waiting for the budget, the healthcare business is especially anxious because many analysts feel the government should increase its budgetary assistance for the industry.
Long-COVID-19 Should Receive Special Consideration in Budget 2023
Dr. Vishesh Kasliwal, Founder & CEO, of Medyseva, said “Since COVID-19, healthcare has been a constant agenda in the news and with several variants and sub-variants of the virus being discovered regularly, it still holds to be a point of discussion and concern. While closely working in rural areas and interacting with patients, we got an opportunity to study the problems faced by people every day. We have noticed that problems like sexual and reproductive health, diabetes, mental health issues and rural healthcare infrastructure require special attention and should be given special consideration in the budget of 2023. The budget allocation to the healthcare sector should be increased by a minimum of 20% from the last year i.e. it should be at least INR 1 crore that can be sub-allocated to various departments like ABDM, Infrastructure, education, Human Resources, Research and other programs. To achieve the figure of 2.5% of GDP as committed in National Health Policy, 2017, the stagnant figure of 1.3% must rise to at least 1.5% this year. Being a telemedicine company, we strongly recommend improvements in infrastructure in terms of internet facilities and properly equipped tertiary hospitals in case of patients who require more than just consultation.”
Need to Increase Budget Allocations to Government Health Schemes
Himanshu Sikka, Practice Lead – Health, Nutrition & WASH, IPE Global (international development consulting firm) said “In the Economic Survey of 2022, India’s public expenditure on healthcare stood at 2.1% of GDP in 2021-22 against 1.8% in 2020-21 and 1.3% in 2019-20. This was a significant jump though a lot remains to be done. Several public sector schemes launched in the last few years, including the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, have focused on building last-mile infrastructure, but the current budget needs to significantly increase allocations towards these and other schemes under the Ayushman Bharat umbrella, such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.”
Focus on Homegrown Innovations in Healthcare
“Along with the increase in public sector allocations towards health infrastructure and insurance schemes, the government needs to focus towards encouraging homegrown innovations – both tech and process – that can help it achieve its universal health care mandate. This will require unlocking greater commercial investments to supplement public resources. In the last budget, Blended Finance was mentioned as one possible way to enable this for sunrise sectors. This budget needs to make specific actionable provisions in this space for setting up the proposed thematic funds. This would require provisions to allow the use of CSR funds towards such blended finance initiatives as well as increasing allocation and awareness around government-backed credit guarantee schemes and possible timeframe extension for some of the schemes like Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid Affected Sectors (LGSCAS),” said Himanshu Sikka.
For the hospitality sector, Sharad K. Upadhyay, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Greater Noida said “I thank the government for considering the hospitality industry as an important part of the country’s economy. Coupled with backward and forward-integrated industries, the Hospitality Industry is a great employment and GDP churner. As the GM of Hotel Crown Plaza Greater Noida, I am eagerly awaiting the Union Budget 2023. We are expecting the central government to consider giving industry status to hotels across the country, spending on investment in infrastructure development to support the effortless movement of people, and tax relief measures to owners so they can pump in investments in current hotels as well as resume the stalled progress of hotels in the pipeline. It would be great if the government implements the GST brackets suggested by FHRAI and various bodies, applicable to hotel services to induce demand and remain competitive in the regional/global markets. I am very positive about the policies that would be unveiled in the new budget and we all look forward to making the next few decades truly remarkable for everyone in India.”
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