The upcoming Budget should aim at establishing India as the Pharmacy of the World by enhancing the manufacturing and research capabilities of the pharma sector through special allocations, tax concessions, incentives and grants. The government should allocate funds for setting up Special Economic Zones to boost drug manufacturing and research. These SEZs should be exempted from GST with the larger objective of putting up a self-sufficient infrastructure in place to enable Indian companies to move up the global value chain.
The finance minister should address the concerns relating to rising input costs, particularly the steep hike in API prices, by offering incentives to domestic API manufacturers on one hand and bringing about a reduction in GST and import duty on APIs on the other.
Considering that cutting-edge R&D holds the key to value creation, the government should announce incentives and grants for cost-intensive research, particularly in critical care segments, and get the Research-Linked Incentive scheme going. All the material procured by pharma firms for R&D purposes should be exempted from taxes. We must create a viable ecosystem to enable R&D-driven pharma companies in India to compete globally by offering interest subsidies, extending tax concessions to exporters and doing away with GST on clinical trials and research projects.
We also expect the finance minister to allocate funds to improve the pharma supply chain and distribution infrastructure by syncing it with the latest digital technologies to ensure better access and uninterrupted deliveries in real-time. These emerging technologies can go a long way in working our way up the value chain through the reduction in costs and improvement in quality, thus giving Indian pharma companies a decisive edge.