MINISTER FOR CHEMICALS AND FERTILISERS
FERTILISER SUBSIDY ARREARS OF around Rs 35,000 crore (by March 2017) have been the biggest challenge for Ananth Kumar. With the government delaying payment, the industry has to bear about Rs 4,000 crore annually as interest cost. Kumar has written to the finance minister for special banking arrangement of Rs 20,000 crore to clear old dues. On the plus side is the plentiful availability of urea, with the country fast becoming self-reliant on this front. Inter-ministerial meetings have also been held to revive ailing fertiliser units, and adding 75 lakh tonne of additional annual production capacity. In pharmaceuticals, the decision to open 3,000 medical stores under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana to make generic medicines available is a welcome step. However, the prime minister’s call for doctors to prescribe generic medicines rather than branded ones (90 per cent of the drugs market) has caused alarm in the industry.