Budget 2021

Viewpoint: Quality infra key for Ayushman Bharat

This was perhaps one of the most inclusive budgets we have seen yet. The big takeaway from this budget was the announcement of income support for farmers. It is an important step taken by the government to support vulnerable, small landholders. While this addresses the social impact and will provide them with relief, my hope is that the government continues to do very detailed work on addressing the root causes of agrarian distress, including crop patterns, demand-supply imbalances and distribution weaknesses. Only then will we see the real socio-economic impact of the government’s initiatives and expenditure, and visible improvement in the agrarian economy, in ways that will go beyond doles and subsidies.

My views are similar in healthcare too – we applaud the government for its stated intent of health for all, and through Ayushman Bharat, taking healthcare to crores of vulnerable families.

However, the scheme will be sustainable in the long run only if it is backed by the creation of quality infrastructure and by sufficient funds allocated to its administration, which will make the scheme sustainable and viable for insurers and providers. A priority for healthcare would be to fully operationalise the 1,50,000 wellness centres focused on early screening and preventive health — we would urge the government to expedite their plans to do this, as it is critical in our long and uphill battle against non-communicable diseases. We also are hopeful of further guidance and focus on integrated health, where our traditional forms of healing such as Ayurveda can work in a seamless way with modern medicine for the benefit of the patient.

The announcement of a pension system for unorganised workers is certainly a welcome and long-awaited step. India’s citizens deserve a strong social security net, and this announcement will go a long way in easing the concerns of old age of these workers, who, in fact, truly drive the engines of our economy. The government has also stayed true to its promise of rewarding honest tax payers by announcing tax reliefs in direct taxation.

The Interim Budget of 2019 signals India’s strong macro-economic fundamentals, and prospects for future growth — a bright spot in the context of the world economy.

We have an opportunity to fully leverage this potential, and position India as a world leader in both manufacturing and services. We look forward to the government capitalising on this opportunity.

We also believe that strong emphasis on priority sectors such as education and healthcare will be critical for our nation to achieve its rightful place in the world order.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 9:40:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/viewpoint-quality-infra-key-for-ayushman-bharat/article26155553.ece

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