By Aakash Sachdev
The forthcoming Union Budget 2023 has the industry brimming with expectations of a budget that will boost the post-pandemic recovery that we saw through the last year. The hope is for a budget that preserves India’s unique advantages that led to India being a bright spot in a gloomy global economy.
Healthcare is central to our vision of being a $30 trillion economy by 2047. The demographic dividend that is expected to peak around 2041 will only be possible with a healthy population. To help achieve this, there is a need for the government to announce tax incentives for investments in the healthcare sector. This could include tax breaks for companies that invest in healthcare infrastructure, tax exemptions for healthcare providers, and other financial incentives to attract more private sector participation in the healthcare sector.
Eye care is an area that is often neglected. Given that the economic potential total loss of productivity due to vision impairment in India at INR 646 billion and estimated net loss of GNI (gross national income) due to blindness in India at INR 845 billion 1 , the government could announce measures to promote and ease access to quality specialized care particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns. This could include allocation of funds for the setting up of new healthcare facilities, upgrading existing ones, and providing financial assistance and broadening of government schemes to promote inclusion of larger sections of the population in smaller towns and cities.
Such measures would go a long way in improving the availability of advanced ophthalmological care across India. We are seeing an increasing role of technology in all areas of business. In healthcare, digitalization is transforming the delivery of care and increasing access to affordable quality care for all. The government could announce policies and initiatives that promote the use of technology in healthcare. This could include allocation of funds for the development of telemedicine and e-healthcare facilities, as well as tax incentives for companies that invest in digital health technologies.
Another area that the budget could address is the shortage of healthcare professionals in smaller towns and cities. The budget could focus on incentivizing the training and development of healthcare professionals. Many specialized doctors prefer to work in the urban centres as it is financially more attractive and avoid the smaller towns and cities. The budget could make it attractive to healthcare professionals to work in Tier 2 and Tier 3 centres by way of tax breaks and other incentives.
The Union Budget is an opportunity to bring healthcare into focus with increase in outlays on public healthcare, providing tax incentives to the private sector for investments in healthcare, and promoting public-private partnerships to improve access to quality care in smaller towns and cities. India became the fifth largest economy last year rising from the eleventh position just a decade ago. The budget must have the sharp vision to continue on the path of growth and take country to a healthy and prosperous future.
(The author is a Managing Director, Foundation Holdings and Director of ASG Eye Hospitals (ASG). Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)