The healthcare industry today welcomed moves to promote preventive health check ups and research in pharma in the Budget but said more could have been done to accelerate growth in the sector.
Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee has proposed a deduction of up to Rs 5,000 for preventive health check-up within the existing deduction limit for health insurance.
She said the tax exemption on preventive health check up is a positive step. "It is time that we become aware as a nation towards better health safety measures." Expressing similar views, Metropolis Healthcare MD & CEO Ameera Shah said: "I am happy to see preventive healthcare being given more importance in the budgets.
However, the industry expected much more than this." Super Religare Laboratories CEO Sanjeev Chaudhry said the initiatives in respect of preventive health check up and larger outlay for the national rural and urban health missions augur well for the diagnostics sector. "The diagnostics sector plays a key role both in preventive health segments and national health screening initiatives," he added. The finance minister also proposed to promote investment in research and development in pharmaceutical sector by extending the weighted deduction of 200% for R&D expenditure in an in-house facility beyond March 31, 2012 for a further period of five years. Commenting on the proposal, Fortis Healthcare Executive Vice-Chairman Shivinder Mohan Singh said: "The inclusion of funding for pharma research is a positive step." A spokesperson of drug maker Lupin said is a small albeit important step in the right direction to encourage companies to invest more in R&D. Reddy further said the increased outlay for schemes like National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) will also help the sector. The budget allocation to NRHM has been hiked to Rs 20,822 crore in 2012-13 from Rs 18,115 crore in 2011-12. In a bid to boost the MSME sector for production of low- cost medical devices, basic customs duty on specified parts, components and raw materials for manufacture of some disposables and instruments has been cut to 2.5% with concessional CVD of 6%. Moreover, full exemption from basic customs duty and CVD was also being extended to specified raw materials for the manufacture of coronary stents and heart valves. The budget also proposed to extend concessional basic customs duty of 5% with full exemption from excise duty and CVD to six specified life-saving drugs/vaccines used for treatment or prevention HIV-AIDS and renal cancer.