Singh announces sops to boost healthcare facilities

Friday, 28 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: In a move towards improving healthcare services and boosting India's image as a global health destination, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh Friday announced a slew of customs duty and tax reliefs for the sector.

To encourage research and development in the medical sector and upgrade facilities, Singh raised the depreciation rate of life saving equipment from existing 25 percent to 40 percent.

"To enhance national health facilities, promote India as a global health destination make healthcare easily accessible", Singh in his 2003-4 budget presentation in Parliament, announced tax benefits for private investment in setting up 100 bed hospitals.

Life saving equipment would now attract only five percent countervailing customs duty as against 25 percent now, said Singh.

To promote research activities in the country, patent income up to 300,000 annually will be fully tax exempt.

For the diabetics, there is good news with the customs duty on glucometer and glucumeter strips being lowered from 10 percent to five percent and the excise duty being abolished.

Keeping his promise to provide better healthcare for the retired defence personnel, Singh said 227 medical centres would be opened throughout the country in April by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Taking forward its drive to check smoking habits and wean away smokers, Singh announced a duty cut in import of nicotine polacrilex gum from 16 percent to eight percent.
Source: IANS
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