It’s not a secret that the country’s healthcare system consistently needs more funds. Ideally, India should be spending at least 2.5- 3 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product on the healthcare system. Sadly, it does not. The healthcare sector and bodies affiliated with it have once again big expectations from the upcoming Union Budget. Take, for example, the growing dependence on imported medical devices flooding the market from China and the United States.
Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) wants the government to protect the manufacturing base in India by increasing the basic customs duty (BCD) on the import of medical devices to at least 10/15 per cent.
Currently, it’s up to 7.5 per cent. Nath says the WTO-bound rate is mostly 40 per cent. “Due to such low customs duty, India is over 80 per cent import dependent. This can be reduced to below 30 per cent with correct policies as done for mobile phones and consumer electronics,” Nath says.
India imported medical devices worth Rs 63,200 crore in 2021-22, up 41 per cent from Rs 44,708 crore in 2020-21, as per data from the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. “Despite PM Narendra Modi’s call for making the country Aatmanirbhar, India’s trade deficit with China has been rising sharply. The overall trade deficit with China widened to a record $72.9 billion in 2021-22,” says Nath pointing to the data.
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