FM hints at a ‘never before’ Budget with health focus

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 18, 2020

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman   -  PTI

FM hints at measures including healthcare infra spend, private partnerships

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday dropped a heavy hint that the upcoming Budget will see the government focusing large measures on enhancing funding for health infrastructure, bringing more private partnerships and encourage more research and development (R&D) work in areas of medicine, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.

Addressing the CII organised Partnership Summit 2020 via video conferencing, Sitharaman said health takes top notch priority in India and the upcoming Budget will probably take for “ good consideration” all the inputs that health sector has been giving the government during the ongoing pre-Budget consultations.

“Health and investment in health is going to be critical, not only to keep our lives safer, but also to make our health related expenditure more predictable, for people will not be spending for health out of their pocket.

More funding for health infrastructure and bringing in private partnership for it is a must. Health focus is not just only for building hospitals but also for providing the capacity to run the hospitals. Patients have to be supported with technology and greater skills must be developed to handle tele-medicine,” she said.

Call for suggestions

Coming as it does after a pandemic that shook the entire world, the Budget should be one that is framed and hailed as “never before” Budget and industry must come up with its suggestions, Sitharaman said.

Her remarks on focus on health is significant as India’s spend on health is currently a paltry 1.29 per cent of GDP, which is one of the lowest in the world.

Two-pronged approach

The Finance Minister said the government will look at health with a two pronged approach — one at the patient’s end, including tech driven advice, and the other to create soft capacities such as doctors, nurses and paramedics so that there is constant flow to serve health needs.

Published on December 18, 2020

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