NGOs working for geriatric care in India have raised concern over the 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on residential, non-residential or elderly care centres.
On Monday, one of the NGOs – Silver Innings, a Mumbai-based organisation working for senior citizens, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asking them to reconsider the decision of levying 18 per cent GST on Residential or Non-Residential, Elder and Disable Care Service.
While the cost of residential care services ranges from Rs500 to Rs1200 per day and the cost of non-residential care services ranged between Rs400 and Rs900 per day. But now, with 18 per cent GST in effect, a family opting for these services will have to spend around Rs1400 a day.
“These services are generally used by a family having a patient suffering from conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia etc. or whose children are abroad etc. Also, elder home which are not free will also fall under GST 18 per cent. They charge from Rs10k to Rs15k per month,” said Sailesh Mishra, founder- president of Silver Innings.
There are around 104 million senior citizens in India and they do not have any source of constant income, say activists and doctors. In the letter, the NGO said their families have to pool in resources to avail services.
“Most of the elderly care centres are run by private institutes. And 18 per cent tax will make it almost impossible to manage costs for the family,” explained Mishra.
In India, most of the facilities and services for old age and disability are provided either by private sector or civil society or individuals. With bare minimum support from government, these non-government facilities and services are boon for patients and families, stated the letter.
“I was shocked to know about the government’s decision to have 18 per cent GST on elderly care services. They need to understand what these services entail and how important they are for the elderly population. It will cause added cost burden on the families,” said Prasad Bhide, founder of Aarambh, a residential care centre for the elderly at Powai in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Dr Harish Shetty, consultant psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai has also written a letter to the PM, “I want to make it clear that GST should be reduced or removed for elderly NGO’s that admit poor senior citizens. And the services for the poor has to be affordable.”