India Inc stands by lockdown extension call; seeks stimulus package to rebuild economy

NEW DELHI: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to extend the lockdown till May 3 to contain Covid-19 spread as “prudent”, India Inc has said it will flatten the curve while seeking urgent financial help for the industry.

Industry chambers pointed to the growing economic cost and possibility of large scale job loss in the absence of industry-specific support.

“The Covid-19 curve trajectory as of now required a fitting containment response and Prime Minister’s decision for continuation of the lockdown is necessary to avert a larger humanitarian crisis,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

While appreciating the need for the extended lockdown, Sangita Reddy, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said, “Estimates show that India may be losing close to 40,000 crore daily due to the national lockdown with an estimated loss amounting to Rs 7-8 lakh crore during the past 21 days.”

This necessitated an urgent relief package as it could result in close to 40 million jobs being lost during April to September 2020, Reddy added.

Specifying that the industry was looking forward to a Rs 16 lakh crore package, DK Aggarwal, president of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, “The Government has already provided a stimulus of around Rs 2 lakh crore, therefore, our expectation is for the remaining Rs 14 lakh crore. A significant stimulus of 7% of GDP would help the economy to grow at around 5% in the current financial year.”

In his address to the nation, Modi mentioned that certain areas could see a gradual lifting of lockdown measures based on the degree of containment of the virus.

Picking up on this point, Banerjee said, “Prime Minister has also provided a guidance on exit from the lockdown after 20 April which helps industry plan better….Industry too can devise its strategies for commencing operations accordingly during this extension period.”

The prime minister also highlighted that supply chains need to be maintained with minimal disruption at all levels.

Suggesting measures to ensure maintain the supply chain, Deepak Sood, secretary general of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said, “These include smooth operation of truckers with adequate manpower, reaching out to farmers and their produce for perishable commodities. There are several industries which are part of the crucial supply chain, and the same must be kept in operation.”

Proposing a mechanised uniform system for curfew passes across the country to enhance efficiency of the supply chain, Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said, “There are about 7 crore traders in the country, out of which about 1.5 crore traders deals in essential commodities, but only 40 lakh of them have been able to continue the supply chain of essential commodities across the country because of facing several difficulties in obtaining passes from the Authorities and non availability of transport.”

Source Article