India can build a $9-billion biotech biz

By Sunil Wadhwani   |   Tuesday, 23 March 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Imagine the Indian biotech products and services industry growing in size from the current $150mn to say $5-9bn. But there are serious hurdles in the way of realising this potential, reports Economic Times.

Major obstacles as identified by the industry are tedious regulatory norms with multiple regulators, unfavourable policy framework, inadequate infrastructure and financial constraints.

Recently, industry bodies Ficci and CII met with the government to propose steps that could be taken to accelerate growth in this nascent sector .

At present, there are multiple and overlapping regulatory bodies which go through any proposal put forth. Ficci and CII both suggest simplifying the approval, evaluation and monitoring process.

Ficci has suggested the setting up of a single apex body, a Biotechnology regulatory commission, which could streamline the policies and procedures.

There is also a suggestion for an effective material transfer agreement to facilitate the access and sharing of biotech resources.

Both CII and Ficci have asked for exemptions and tax breaks. Given that biotechnology is a capital intensive industry with long gestation period, the industry bodies have asked for tax incentives for venture capitalists and other investors.

This could be in the form of exemption of capital gains tax. CII has suggested exemption or reduction of excise duty on biotech products, while Ficci has recommended a biotechnology industry development fund at the department of biotechnology or ministry of small scale industries.

The fund will help support entrepreneurs, especially SMEs, interested in setting up biotech ventures, with start-up grants.

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