According to a note issued by the the rating agency Crsil on Friday, Reserve Bank’s Rs 50,000-crore liquidity window can help augment the bed capacity at hospitals by up to 20 per cent as credit will be available at cheaper costs.
The window to banks under priority-sector lending to augment Covid-19 healthcare infrastructure will help raise treatment capacity, and availability of medicines and medical equipment, it said.
“Hospitals could be among the biggest beneficiaries as the incremental funding can potentially increase bed capacity in the country by 15-20 per cent,” said the note.
Under the RBI guidelines, loans can be extended to makers and suppliers of vaccines and drugs, hospitals, pathology labs, oxygen suppliers, makers of emergency medical equipment, logistics firms, and Covid-19 patients as well, the agency said.
The agency said 354 companies it rates, with an aggregate bank exposure of Rs 40,000 crore, will be eligible for such loans. Pharmaceutical firms account for 68 per cent of the rated bank exposure, but hospitals (24 per cent of rated exposure) are likely to avail majority of the funding available, it said.
At present, hospitals pay up to 11 per cent in interest on their borrowings, and the new loans under the new schemes will be cheaper by up to 3.50 per cent, it said.
“Increased availability of funds at low cost will incentivise hospitals to augment beds, oxygen storage, ICUs and critical medical equipment,” its chief ratings officer Subodh Rai said.
While incentives under the liquidity window are attractive, hospital firms would carefully evaluate decisions considering sustainability of demand and availability of critical resources such as manpower and equipment, said the note.
“Augmenting healthcare infrastructure has challenges beyond capital requirements. Higher lead times for equipment and availability of qualified manpower are critical factors that can create bottlenecks,” its senior director Anuj Sethi said.