Budget: 'Bring healthcare sector under zero rating GST'

Union Budget 2021 | Bring healthcare sector under 'zero rating' GST, says Indus Health Plus MD

Considering Covid, it is possible that the allocation of budget in 2021 on healthcare may receive a significant share

Mr. Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus

By Mr. Amol Naikawadi

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a learning for the whole world about the importance of having a robust healthcare ecosystem.

Considering the immense contribution that the sector has given all through the year 2020, it is possible that the allocation of budget in 2021 on healthcare may receive a significant share. In addition, one of the key expectations of this year’s budget is that there should be a larger emphasis on public spending on the prevention of both communicable and non-communicable diseases rather than seeking treatment.

Moreover, the pandemic has accentuated the need gap for advanced and better public hospitals. Having said that, along with the focus on PPP models, more investments should be done to strengthen the overall digital infrastructure, local MedTech industry, and next-generation technologies like genetic testing that played a key role during the pandemic.

Furthermore, from the GST standpoint, the union budget should consider making healthcare more affordable by taking an important step of making ‘zero rating’ of GST for healthcare services.

Besides that, we have been stressing for a long time that a tax exemption of Rs 5000 is a negligible amount when considered for an entire family. Since testing and early detection have played an important in controlling the pandemic. Therefore, it should be increased to Rs 25000 - Rs 30000. This will encourage people to avail/invest in preventive health screenings and stop depending upon curative treatments only.

Similarly, corporates should also receive special tax benefits for including preventive healthcare in their policies for their employees’ health and wellbeing.

(The author is Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus)