Hyderabad: The Union finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in an interaction with economists and financial experts regarding the Union Budget in Hyderabad said that five per cent cess on medical devices will be utilised for developing the health infrastructure in the country. Replying to a question put forward by a an oncologist regarding the taxation on medical equipments, Ms Sitharaman said, “While the cities in our country are fortunate enough to have good hospitals, like in Hyderabad, tier 2 and tier 3 cities don’t even have hospitals. How much can the government keep putting into the health sector? So the five per cent cess will go towards building medical infrastructure in these cities where we don’t have enough hospitals impanelled under Aayushmann Bharat scheme.”
Regarding a query about 50 per cent of the money under Aayushman Bharat scheme being unutilised, the finance minister said, “These funds are being used for patient care. We thought we can’t afford to make patients wait, so these funds will go towards establishing the basic medical infrastructure that is lacking in many places and for patient care.”
She further said that the government has not increased duties on medical equipment made in India. Regarding the controversy about minimal allocation in the Budget for Telangana, she said there was no injustice done to Telangana in the Budget allocations. She also denied the claim that GST compensation was unfair in Telangana. She said that due to the increase in GST reimbursement, all rafters were delayed and there were no funds available to the Center for allocations if the training cess was met. “There will not be any compromise in respect to the country’s Fiscal Deficit. FRBM Act has been kept in view and has been abided by while preparing the Budget 2020-21,” she said.
‘TCS tax is not double taxation’
Regarding the five per cent taxation on foreign remittances, Ms Sitharaman said, “TCS (tax collected at source) is not double taxation. If you didn’t pay your income tax returns but you had enough money to send it abroad, won’t you want to pay a small give per cent on that amount?”
Adding to this, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, revenue secretary, said, “Liberalised foreign remittances of up to $2.5 lakh can be sent hassle-free. While the total remittance in 2010 was $1 billion, last year, we had sent US$14 billion. However, we need to check on how much of this money income tax returns have been filed.”