No relief to the healthcare sector discouraging: FICCI

New Delhi, May 20, 202-

The private healthcare sector has played a crucial role by partnering with the government in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. But it has seen decline in revenues, according to FICCI Health Services Committee, here on Wednesday.

Welcoming the steps for augmenting public health infrastructure, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chair of the FICCI Health Services Committee Dr Alok Roy said they were long-awaited reforms.

“While these are commendable steps towards ‘Atmnirbhar Bharat’, immediate implementation is crucial to realise their impact in 3-5 years. The public spending on healthcare should be increased to at least 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product, which has been assured in the National Health Policy 2017,” he said.

The health sector was expecting a package as it faced acute financial as well as physical stress over the past couple of months, but it had been ignored, he said. “The FICCI lauds the strategic reforms announced for the public health infrastructure, but no immediate relief to the healthcare industry is a discouragement,” Roy said.

The hospitals that were financially fragile came under further stress due to investments for Covid-19 preparedness and had seen revenues dip due to 60-80 per cent decline in the patient footfall, leading to estimated operational losses of Rs 4,500 crore a month (at 50 per cent revenues and 35 per cent occupancy levels), he said.

Many small hospitals and nursing homes in tier II & III cities had to shut due to liquidity and cash flow challenges, he added.

The committee had suggested support to the sector through short-term interest-free or concessional interest rate loans to address the Rs 14,000-24,000 crore liquidity gap.

It had also sought indirect tax relief/exemptions/waiver, like recoup amount equivalent to ineligible GST credits paid on procurement for a stipulated period, waiver or reduction of the health cess on all essential medical devices and at least 50 per cent rebate on power tariff to ensure sustenance of business.  (Agency)

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