Budget to prioritise health investments

Core sector revival will be speedy: FM

With the revival of the Indian economy being the primary focus, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday hinted that the Union Budget for 2021-22 would assign top billing to health sector concerns, while addressing the implications of the post-pandemic world for industry and the workforce.

Stressing that India would play a significant role in reviving the global economy and was ready to manufacture vaccines for the world, she said, “we owe it to humanity to put our heads together and come up with a Budget that can play its role in reviving India”.

Seeking ideas from industry leaders at the CII Partnership Summit, Ms. Sitharaman said: “Feel free to send me your inputs so that we can see a Budget like never before. In 100 years of India, we haven’t seen a Budget being made post-pandemic like this. And that is not going to be possible unless I get each one of your inputs and wish list. Without that, it is impossible for me to draft up something which is going to be that Budget like never before.

“Considering the size of our population, and the potential India holds for good growth-related building of our economy, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that we shall be the engine of global growth, along with a few other countries, of course,” she added.

Health as priority

Emphasising that the government was taking all inputs received from health sector experts for the Budget seriously, the Minister said: “Health and investment in health takes top-notch priority, not just to keep us safer, but also to make health and health-related expenditure more predictable; for people not to do it out-of-pocket, some kind of provisions to be made for that.”

The Budget will also try to leverage India’s strengths in areas such as vaccine production to encourage investments in research and development in biotech and pharmaceuticals, she said.

“At a time [when] many economies are wondering where to procure their vaccines from, after they are formulated and certified… we in India are actually very fortunate to have such capacities that are now racing ahead of time… and we have the capacity to… produce as much as we need,” she pointed out. To a query as to where she sees India one year from now, the Minister said: “One thing’s for sure… India would have moved a lot more on digitisation… have its signature on anything to do with fintech, financial transactions and digital payments globally.

“You will also find that India will show signs of being a leader in infrastructure building. Therefore, core sector revival will be speedier than anything else.”

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