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What You Need to Know about the GST Impact on Pharma and Healthcare Industry?

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is a significant sector for the Indian economy. In terms of the volume of generic medicines produced, India is the third largest producer in the world and its rank in terms of the industry’s value stands at fourteen. The healthcare segment is expected to reach a valuation of $150 billion by the end of 2017. Like every other industry of the economy, the impact of GST is bound to be felt on the pharma industry as well.

To begin with, as different indirect taxes will be subsumed in a single tax, it will simplify the taxation system. Going further, the GST will affect the pricing, working capital, contracts with vendors, the ERP systems and internal processes in the sector.

To understand the GST impact on pharma companies, we need to be aware of the entire range of the pharmaceutical supply chain. At one end are pharma product manufacturers, contract and API manufacturers and the organisations that market the products in different parts of India. At the other end is a chain of Carrying and Forwarding Agents (C&F), distributors/wholesalers and retailers.

Two key parameters have changed in the pharma industry on account of GST. One is the manufacturing price, because many raw materials for medicines have been shifted from the 5% VAT bracket to the 12% GST bracket. Secondly, many medicinal salts and compounds have been wholly moved from 5% VAT to 12% GST rate on pharma industry. Furthermore, a number of health supplements that were earlier in the 12.5% to 15% tax bracket are now in the 18% to 28% GST bracket. The net effect of all these changes will be a significant hike in the price of medicines.

For a deeper view of the GST impact on pharma industry, we also need to consider the margins at which the complete supply chain works. In this sector, the clearing and forwarding agent has a 4% to 6% margin on the maximum retail price (MRP) of medicines, the distributor works at 7% to 8% margin on the same and the retailer has a margin of 20% on a medicine’s MRP. With the imposition of GST, the pharma companies will need to pay extra for the manufacturing cost, because the cost of raw materials has increased. Eventually, the product’s MRP will be revised to absorb the total effect.

Meanwhile, the government has also taken some steps to control and cap the price of some critical medicines, salts & compounds. This will result in a loss of 2% to 3% for the pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing companies, who now have to bear higher costs.

From the viewpoint of wholesalers and retailers, the earning margins may not drop immediately, and supplies will be stabilised soon. The bigger concern will be the inventory held by them, on which the new GST rates will apply, although these goods were bought at the older VAT rates. In this case, the distributors and retailers will lose about 3% to 4% on their entire inventory.

Will the GST impact on healthcare industry also influence medical tourism?

By October 2015, the medical tourism sector of India was estimated to have a value of US $3 billion. It was projected to grow to $7-$8 billion by 2020. A number of studies have shown that the cost of healthcare services in India combined with the travelling and accommodation costs is around 30% to 40% lesser than similar medical procedures in first world countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and most Western European countries. The boom in India’s medical tourism has helped to generate more returns for the healthcare industry.

The overall impact of GST on healthcare and medical tourism industry will be a mix of positives and negatives. The diagnostic services have not been burdened by the tax. There is also no tax on medical devices like hearing aids. However, a 5% GST rate has been applied on vaccines, cardiac stents, diagnostic test kits and dialysis equipment. The rate of GST for X-ray tubes, radiotherapy apparatus and surgical instruments will be 12% and for high-end medical equipment, an 18% tax rate will be applied. While patients located in India may end up paying a higher cost for some products and services, the medical tourism industry is expected to grow, as the comparative costs in a few other countries still give an advantage to India.

Yoga, meditation centres and organic living practices in India also attract tourists from other parts of the world. The country is a home to a myriad of alternative practices like Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha and Acupuncture, which are popular among medical tourists. These give an edge to India over Asian countries like UAE, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. However, the GST rate on Ayurvedic products has been raised to 12%. It attracted a levy of only about 5% in the pre-GST regime. This may impact the price of natural medicine products if the manufacturers decide to pass on the burden to customers. Visits to yoga classes will also be expensive, as it is yet another segment that has become taxable under GST.

Overall, the GST impact on healthcare and pharma industry is not fully established. The obvious benefit will be by way of reduced complexities and the consolidation of multiple taxes into a single rate. The negative impacts will be felt in the form of increased prices for customers and reduced margins for businesses in the supply chain. The GST Council is still deliberating over some reforms to alleviate the burden on the people affected.

Capital Float has been taking note of the changing conditions post the implementation of Goods and Services Tax on 01 July 2017. With the aim of promoting entrepreneurship in India, we maintain our convenient lending services to businesses in all the industries including the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. We support the Make in India initiative and only happy to answer any query that you may have on the finance product that suits your business, loan interest rates and terms.

Oct 24, 2018

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Why Merchant Cash Advance is an ideal finance option for SMEs

An increasing number of businesses in India, even the smaller ones, are beginning to accept payments for their products and services via credit cards. The acceptance of credit card payments is not only convenient but also a boon for these units, as the same can be used to get short-term funding or advances from funding agencies. A merchant cash advance, as the name suggests, is a cash advance to merchants against their future credit card payment receivables.

Merchant cash advance is a relatively new form of funding in India for small businesses that need fast access to cash and have an established credit card transaction history. Widely used in the US and Canada for several years now, this type of lending is a convenient and easy method of raising funds. It’s not really a loan, rather an advance payment against the future income of a business. Merchant cash advance loans are an ideal solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs who lack adequate organized funding and often resort to borrowing from friends, family or unorganized lenders. They are emerging as an optimum solution for meeting the funding requirements of businesses with a regular income received via credit cards.

SMEs and Funding Options

A majority of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) today operate with cash cycles of 60 days or more, but options for getting working capital finance are severely limited. Although the SME segment plays a key role in India’s economic growth, these enterprises suffer on account of inadequate funding options and thus resort to high interest loans from the informal segment.

Recent years have, however, witnessed the development of innovative products by non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and micro lenders to fill the funding gap in the SME segment. Merchant cash advance is one such product that aims to help small businesses garner the necessary working capital by way of advances against the future income of a business.

Merchant Cash Advance: A Simple and Convenient Product

A merchant cash capital provider would give you a lump-sum amount, which is paid off automatically when they take a percentage of your daily credit card receipts. Since the repayment is linked to credit card receipts, this funding option is suitable for businesses that have a significant portion of their income via the credit card receipts. These include restaurant owners, online shopping sites, merchants and service providers.

The rate at which repayments are made or the retrieval rate can vary from 5% to 20% of the credit card receipts of a business. This retrieval rate is decided on the basis of the amount of advance, the quantum of sales via credit cards and the repayment period. Another important feature of this type of funding is that repayment begins immediately after the receipt of the funds with the total duration of the advance ranging between 180 and 360 days.

The amount of advance that a small business can get is determined by its average credit card sales. A merchant advance provider generally reviews your income inflow over the past six months to determine the advance amount that you can get. The funds provider generally ties up with the credit card payment processors with a predetermined percentage of the merchant’s credit card sales being transferred to the lender directly. The time taken to repay this advance is dependent on the percentage of credit card sales being given to the finance provider. The higher the percentage, the shorter is the time it would take to repay the advance.

Why Opt for a Merchant Cash Advance?

There are several reasons that make a merchant cash advance a preferred funding option for small businesses with high credit card transactions. These include:

1. Easy to Apply: It is very easy to apply for a merchant cash advance. All you need to do is to fill an online application form and upload the required supporting documents like your tax returns, bank account statements and credit card processing statements.

2. Quick Processing: Fund providers like Capital Float that rely heavily on cutting-edge technology take a decision within a few hours and deliver the funds within a few days. This is highly beneficial for businesses that require quick cash to cover unexpected business expenses.

3. Perfect Credit Score Not the Criteria: A merchant cash advance is sanctioned solely on the basis of the credit card receipts of a business and their consistency, without assigning too much importance paid to the credit score of an individual or business.

4. Unsecured Loans: A merchant cash advance is an unsecured loan that can be obtained without mortgaging any asset. No collateral is required and the focus is the future income.

5. Flexible Repayment: Since the repayment amount is a specific percentage of your credit card sales during a month, you are not overburdened or under pressure to pay more even during a lean period for your business or when your business is going through a rough patch and the sales are not up to the mark.

6. High Limits: Advance fund providers generally offer a higher borrowing limit than banks since they take their decisions on the basis of your future income.

7. No Impact on Credit Report: Since merchant cash capital is actually a sales transaction, it does not get reflected in the credit record of the business or the business owner.

A word of caution before you decide to take a merchant cash advance for funding your working capital needs. The cost of this type of funding may be higher than the loans taken from banks because the repayment is dependent on the factor rate of your advance. This factor rate is multiplied by the amount of advance to derive the total amount to be repaid. You can reap the benefits of merchant cash advance loans to fund your working capital needs by negotiating a lower holdback percentage. Although this will increase the repayment duration, it will help you minimize the cost.

Oct 24, 2018

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Projections for the Future: Top 5 Small Business Trends in 2018

Thriving amidst difficult environments has never been easy for SMEs in India, but they continue to stand tall. Despite numerous challenges in the form of infrastructural constraints and lack of access to formal credit, they contribute to 8% of the GDP. Rightly called ‘the engine of growth’ for India, SMEs have scaled manufacturing capabilities, reduced regional disparities and balanced the distribution of wealth.

Small businesses are now being increasingly associated with innovation and employment, and the figures state likewise. The micro, small and medium enterprise(MSME) sector contributes to 69% of employment in India. With the growing penetration of technology into mainstream ecosystem, these industries are at the forefront of bringing the convenience of digitalization to the masses.

The Indian economy is expected to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and SMEs are cutting roads towards this goal. As we enter the first financial year post implementation of GST, some interesting small business trends are touted to play an important role for a smoother growth journey to global standards.

Here are the latest business trends that you can keep in mind while setting your objectives for FY 2018-19.

Business Trend 1: Rise of Online B2B Marketplaces

E-commerce marketplaces are gradually gaining momentum worldwide, and has branched out to B2B trading platforms. While this is still at an embryonic stage in India, there is no doubt that the potential it holds is huge. According to experts, the scope of the ecommerce B2B industry is six times bigger than the B2C industry, and is estimated to be worth $620 billion industry by 2020.

Companies such as Amazon Business, Alibaba, IndiaMart, Power2SME, etc. are popular online platforms that connect B2B buyers and suppliers to fulfill their business requirements. These digital platforms have helped small businesses surpass technical and geographical limitations to procure raw materials in bulk at reduced prices and also become official supply partners to large corporations. This is one of the hottest small business trends of 2018 that will present aspiring as well as budding entrepreneurs a level playing field with industry leaders.

Business Trend 2: Personalized Customer Outreach via Automated Tech

With the oldest of the millennials attaining 35 years of age this year, the target audience has shifted by a generation. For an age bracket that has been wrought in technology, this band of consumers need more than online communication. They seek a personalized line of contact when availing services from small businesses, with 60% of them choosing emails as a preferred way to establish this connect.

Since the millennial generation has the highest buying power in the market valued at $44 billion globally, this is one audience you don’t want to miss out on. You can target them by leveraging interactive videos, engaging images, and emails customized with these elements for varying demographics. The use of intelligent virtual communication applications will help you implement this in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Business Trend 3: Easy Access to Business Credit with FinTech Lenders

The biggest hurdle for small business owners has always been financing. For a country with 50 million SMEs, there is an unmet credit deficit of a staggering $350 billion. Traditional lending institutions are limited by conventional underwriting that caters only to a certain strata of businesses. Lack of collateral, documentation and operational history have been crippling factors that prevented SMEs from qualifying for formal finance. This, in turn, pushed SMEs to the informal sector where the high interest rates charged by moneylenders fettered borrowers to a chronic cycle of debt.

But, FinTech lenders are shifting the narrative by leveraging technology and unconventional data points to provide affordable loans to small businesses as well as consumers. With customized credit products and zero collateral requirement, these digital financiers bridge the gap that had long existed in the market.

Business Trend 4: Big Data to Drive Operations and Decisions

‘Is Big Data too big for SMEs?’- is a question that requires intensive analysis, depending on the goals that define the small business and its operations. Many SMEs see big data projects as unapproachable and sophisticated, owing to the difficulties inherent in understanding huge datasets. However, studies reveal that a calculated use of big data has a colossal impact on the growth of small businesses and has been the chassis for many popular business models.

This business trend is expected to revolutionize the SME sector by speeding its pace of development. New-age digital lenders do finance technological incorporations if it shows a direct correlation to business growth, so you needn’t worry about the funds for investing in Big Data. Check out Unsecured Business Loans for more details.

Business Trend 5: Shifted Focus on IT Security

2017 saw one of the largest cyberattack worldwide, the WannaCry ransomware attack, that caused the encryption of data on computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system and risked the exposure of sensitive data of companies in over 150 countries. Though the attack was stopped within a few days of discovery, the total damages were estimated to be in billions of dollars.

The IT industry in India contributes to a key part of the country’s economy, a significant number of enterprises will begin to invest in dedicated security systems that focus on detection and response, a shift away from conventional systems that were based on prevention. Security enhancements offered by SaaS/Cloud based platforms have become more affordable for small businesses to establish a dominant architecture for data integrity management.

Oct 24, 2018