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Will the budget be the savior it is expected to be?

With the Union Budget 2020 around the corner, the healthcare sector has a wide gamut of expectations. The industry has sent in recommendations to the finance ministry through its respective associations.

The CII is pushing for establishing India as a medical device-manufacturing hub. Measures suggested include incentivizing MedTech companies engaged in exports, a special subsidy for MedTech manufacturers in Special Economic Zones, and regulation of all medical devices under Patients’ Safety Medical Devices law.

MTaI, which represents leading research-based MedTech companies with large footprint in manufacturing and training, has recommended that the government streamline the tax and duty structure. This includes reduction of customs duties to the minimum, down to 2.5 percent; reversing the recent hike in customs duty on IVDs back to 10 percent; a tax holiday for the R&D centers; and tax incentives on exports.

AiMeD, on its part, is seeking reasonable tariff protection, rationalized price control on medical devices by capping markup over import-landed price, and incentivizing quality in public healthcare procurements by preferential pricing for quality, instead of L1.

FICCI is looking for a major reduction in the GST rate on medical supplies and diagnostic equipment and devices, as the healthcare services are now exempted from GST.

Among other incentives, NATHEALTH recommends a dedicated fund for healthcare infrastructure and innovation, incentivizing capacity building, and promotional policies for private providers.

The hospital sector is looking for an increase in the government’s intent to collaborate with the private sector. The overall slowdown in expansion plans of private healthcare players cannot be allowed to continue, and new entrants must be encouraged to seamlessly operate in the current business scenario.

In an interesting development, in a corner of Manchester, New Hampshire, a piece of science fiction is becoming reality. A clutch of labs is using cutting-edge tissue technologies to make spares for the human body. BioFabUSA is chasing the dream to someday build a facility that can grow parts of the human body from living cells. A giant leap on the cards, indeed!

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