Govt may ready negative list of prohibited activities

New Delhi: India may draw up a negative list of activities that are prohibited in order to help ease the country out of the lockdown. The strategy is aimed at opening up a bigger share of the economy and preventing the kind of confusion that’s allowed district administrations to be […]

New Delhi: India may draw up a negative list of activities that are prohibited in order to help ease the country out of the lockdown. The strategy is aimed at opening up a bigger share of the economy and preventing the kind of confusion that’s allowed district administrations to be more restrictive than intended.

The government permitted the resumption of many activities in two stages, on April 20 and May 4, but lack of clarity over the guidelines has meant the impact of this relaxation has been much less on the ground than it should have been.

Some government policymakers are worried that this confusion has given too much power in the hands of local authorities and led to the return of an inspector raj that could derail the country’s efforts to attract foreign investors looking to shift from China besides further crippling the economy.

A negative list will clearly spell out what’s not allowed, allowing other activities to resume.

“We need to have a negative list of five-six things and open up the rest completely… Supply chains must fully work,” said a senior government official aware of the deliberations.

The idea is to allow as much economic activity as possible with stringent sanitisation and distancing norms, the official said.

The negative list could include all activities that involve public gatherings and weekly bazaars as well as educational institutes remaining closed for some time.

MSMEs Unable to Restart Operations

Public transport is proposed to be opened with alternate seating, stringent distancing and regular disinfecting. Air travel could also be allowed with vacant middle seats and proper sanitisation. No gathering of more than 10 persons at the workplace and in public transport systems will be allowed. The new guidelines could also entail a 40 minute gap between shifts in factories with proper sanitisation to be carried out in this period. Besides, hand sanitisers will need to be placed in public places, on public transport and in government and private workplaces.

A final call on the proposal will be taken close to May 15, two days before the lockdown is scheduled to end. India’s nationwide lockdown began on March 25 and has been extended to May 17.

“These ongoing restrictions by local administrations on businesses and industry are delaying restart of the economy and hurting it,” said another official. “Without functioning of complete supply chains some or the other sector will continue to face issues.”

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been unable to restart operations because local administrations and factory inspectors haven’t allowed them to in some cases, apart from disruptions in raw material supply chains and lack of workers. Those who are looking to start operations are finding it hard to get workers located in red zones, for instance.

The lockdown has seen the closure of factories, shops and business establishments apart from supplies of non-essentials by ecommerce companies being disallowed, hitting industry hard.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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