A great wellness pill but wanting in therapeutic interventions

The Budget has substantial incentive for startups and small to medium businesses; and the move to expand the 25% tax rate to companies with revenue upto Rs. 400 crore is commendable.  The measures to support the startup landscape – particularly eliminating scrutiny on capital gains in the case of angel tax and expanding fair market value justification exemption to Category I AIFs could help strengthen the funding ecosystem in the country.  

However, I would have liked to see greater reflection of fund allocation or tailored program announcements to support the Make in India and Ayushman Bharat programs, marque initiatives of Prime Minister Modi that are particularly relevant for companies across the continuum of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, diagnostics and healthcare delivery.  If the lofty vision of Ayushman Bharat is to be accomplished, implementation budget and plans should be progressively and substantially bolstered.   With the exception of incentives to multinational companies for creation of mega manufacturing parks, there is no meaningful reform to foster scaling of Indian manufacturing footprint, especially in sectors that are still heavily import dependent such as medical devices. 

Additionally, given the crossroads the pharma and biotech industry is at today, it is also critical that there is encouragement for multifold increase in level for research engagement.  There are no tangible provisions in the budget that will help substantially elevate competitiveness of the industry.

Overall, the budget is in my view a good wellness prescription for the overall economy but lacks specialist’s clinical interventions in specific parts where the economy’s health is relatively poor and needs an injection of support.

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