The Union Budget 2014, presented by a government barely six weeks in office, is well-balanced. It addresses the issue of enhancing economic growth to 7-8 per cent over the next few years through a slew of measures.
The focus on infrastructural development across transportation, education and healthcare is noteworthy as this will go a long way in nation-building.
The health-related infrastructure development initiatives are moves in the right direction for creating a healthy nation. The impetus provided to drug-testing, the setting aside of Rs 500 crores for establishing four new AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), 12 government medical colleges with dental facilities and 15 Model Rural Health Research centres are all steps in the right direction. While the government has provided some relief via removal of service tax on disposal of bio-medical waste, such an exemption has not been provided for clinical trials, which is much needed to boost the activity. Health expenditure, which is around 4 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product), has a low contribution from the government (around 1 per cent of GDP). The government's new initiatives, which have a medium- to long-term time frame, are well positioned to enhance its contribution to healthcare.