Reassuring budget with thrust on healthcare, say industry experts

By Sarkaritel February 2, 2021 12:08

Bengaluru, Feb 2  With no unpleasant surprises, the Union Budget was reassuring as healthcare and well-being received top priority and higher outlay, industry experts said on Monday.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the federal budget for the ensuing fiscal in Parliament on Monday.

“A reassuring Union Budget with no unpleasant surprises has buoyed the sentiment. Healthcare and well-being received top priority, with an overall outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore, including Rs 35,400 crore for anti-Covid vaccination and Rs 64,184 crore for a new scheme to strengthen the primary, secondary and tertiary health infrastructure across the country,” said Biocon Ltd. Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw here.

Noting other positives in the budget proposals, including higher spending on infrastructure, push for bank privatisation, increased funding to strengthen the public sector research and development (R&D) and innovation ecosystem, Shaw said the increase in the FDI (foreign direct investment) limit to 74 per cent from 49 per cent in the insurance sector and monetisation of public sector assets, including land, were critical for speedy implementation.

Lauding the budget for special attention to the healthcare sector, with a 135 per cent increase in its outlay over fiscal 2020-21, city-based Manipal Hospitals Chief Executive Dilip Jose said the enhanced allocation augured well for the country, as it looked at the sector holistically, covering nutrition, well-being, sanitation, clean drinking water and pollution control.

“The budget has also focused on scaling infrastructure such as critical care capabilities along with primary and secondary care facilities through the ‘Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat’ programme,” Jose added.

The Finance Minister’s assurance of higher allocations as institutions absorb funds is heartening.

“A great beginning has been made in the journey to take our healthcare system to the world-class standards,” Jose said.

The Central government’s plan to construct a universal platform to collate information and set up access to social security benefits like healthcare and credit to the gig workers drew the attention of International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-Bengaluru) Director S. Sadagopan.

“This is a welcome move as it will foster the daily life of the workforce that makes up a significant percentage of our population,” said Sadagopan in a statement.

The Union budget is focused on healthcare, infrastructure and agriculture, following the effects of the pandemic last year, the academic expert added.

Siemens Chief Executive Sunil Mathur said the budget was comprehensive with a thrust on infrastructure, health and well-being, skilling and migrant workers.

“The 34.5 per cent rise in capex (capital expenditure) spending and the proposal to set up a Development Finance Institution (DFI) will help boost the infrastructure sector,” Mathur added.

The creation of Bad Banks to deal with NPAs (non-performing assets) is a positive move. The announcements related to the divestment plan were much needed as it could help prop-up the economy, Mathur said.

By Sarkaritel February 2, 2021 12:08