‘Scale up medical infra manifold’
Industry and analysts welcomed the targeted interventions — with a special focus on health and tourism — announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“The measures to keep enterprises afloat in the aftermath of COVID 2.0 in the form of extending loan guarantees to the healthcare, tourism sectors and small borrowers, in addition to increasing the scope of ECLGS by ₹1.5 lakh crore are very welcome steps,” CII president T.V. Narendran said.
“The extension of ECLGS’s scope and coverage are expected to provide significant support to the cash flow of the stressed sectors,” he added. Stating that tourism had been one of the most impacted sectors, he said the package would usher in much-needed liquidity and help revive the employment-intensive sector.
“Financial support in the form of working capital loans with 100% guarantee to over 11,000 registered tourist guides, travel and tourism stakeholders will help save livelihoods, revive the sector and mitigate further closures and also create new job opportunities,” he added.
FICCI senior VP Sanjiv Mehta said, “While some of the existing relief measures have been extended, the focus of the new measures is very well placed. The emphasis laid on the COVID-affected sectors is laudable.” The extension of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana until March 31, 2022 should help support additional hiring, he added.
The health sector too welcomed steps targeted at this industry. “The allocation of ₹23,220 crore towards public health for COVID-care and future preparedness with a special emphasis on pediatric emergency preparedness will bolster efforts for any such healthcare challenges in the future,” said Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals.
Healthcare industry body NATHEALTH president Harsh Mahajan said, “The pinpoint focus on augmenting manpower and infrastructural resources for pediatric care is a welcome step and a new beginning”.
He, however, added an increased outlay of ₹50,000 crore on scaling up medical infrastructure would be useful in the short term but has to be increased manifold to make up for the neglect of the healthcare sector over the past several decades.
“There can be no better time than the present to fulfil the long-pending demand of the healthcare sector to be accorded infrastructure status to enable the nation leapfrog to the next level of healthcare, he added.
Rikant Pitti, co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said credit relief will play a crucial role in reviving the tourism sector.
“Tourist guides and other travel stakeholders are the backbone of the industry and we believe that the special fund outlay will enable them to rise from the challenges they had faced over the past year and a half.” (With PTI inputs)
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