Accord 'strategic sector' tag to pharma industry: Parliamentary panel

New Delhi: Highlighting the need for strong indigenous pharma companies, a Parliamentary panel has recommended that the pharma industry should be categorised as a “strategic sector” and called for a necessary follow-up action in this regard.

In its report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, on the review of loss-making central public sector enterprises, the Committee on Public Undertakings chaired by Meenakshi Lekhi observed that the indigenous awareness of healthcare facilities is of paramount importance of any nation.

The Committee said it was of the strong opinion that pharma sector plays a very important role to keep the nation healthy and strong, and this has been quite apparent during the current pandemic when the need for strong indigenous pharma companies has been realised with more intensity.

“The Committee therefore recommend that pharma sector should be categorised as a ‘strategic sector’ and a necessary follow-up action needs to be taken accordingly,” the report stated.

The panel underlined that pharma PSUs like Hindustan Antibiotics Limited, IDPL, etc are also facing a very stiff competition from foreign companies, particularly, the Chinese ones.

“Even the Department of Pharmaceuticals informed the Committee that the reasons for pharma CPSUs going under loss include outdated plant and machinery and obsolete technology” the report stated.

Besides, in certain other sectors like light and heavy engineering products, the PSUs like SAIL are in dire need of constant technology upgradation to keep pace with the market demands and compete with the multi-national companies.

The Committee also observed that during the current pandemic when other airlines could not come to rescue, it was only Air India which brought Indian citizens from foreign countries and thus its importance was realised during this crisis in a bigger way.

It noted that the aviation sector being of strategic importance, the country needs to have its own national air carrier which could be relied upon during the crisis.

“The Committee therefore urges the government to maintain a fine balance between the national interest of having its own airlines and overall health of national carrier. The Committee would like to be apprised of the progress made so far and the latest developments about the status of Air India,” stated the panel’s report.

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