The Union Budget 2021 aims at providing impetus to the government’s promise of an Atmanirbhar Bharat. With a remarkable 137 per cent increase in the allocation of funds for the sector, the government has shown the intent to strengthen the healthcare ecosystem in India. The announcement of Rs 64,180 crore, earmarked for Pradhan Mantri Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana is a welcome move and the scheme will not only strengthen the healthcare ecosystem by making public health spaces more accessible but also enhance the capabilities in detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. Similarly, Rs 35,000 crores allocated for COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in the country will ensure easy accessibility to the same. Furthermore, with healthcare being a focus area for the government, the sector will benefit from the National Research Foundation (NRF) outlay of Rs 50,000 crores aimed at strengthening the innovation and research capabilities in the country. The allocation of Rs 15,700 crores to the MSME sector will provide the necessary stimulus to small medical device manufacturers in the country that have been reeling under the effects of slow growth due to the pandemic. While there were conversations on the introduction of COVID cess to counter the revenue because of the large scale vaccination drive, the government has ensured no new direct taxes for individuals as well as the corporates which is a welcome move. Overall a positive budget with substantial contributions earmarked for the healthcare sector in line with government’s priority for making India a global medical hub.
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