Government to announce measures to deal with coronavirus impact on industry: FM
The government will soon announce measures to deal with the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the domestic industry and exports, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday.
These measures will be announced in consultation with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the minister said after meeting representatives of the industry to review the situation following the outbreak of the deadly virus in China.
Various industry representatives, including those from pharma, textiles, chemicals electronics and IT hardware, solar, auto, surgical equipment, paint, fertilizer, telecom glass, mobile manufacturing, edible oil, shipping and tourism, attended the meeting.
Some of them have issues related to export, and some related to raw material import, she said.
The government was represented by secretary-level officials from commerce, and heavy industry departments while representatives of pharma, shipping, MSME, and telecom were also present at the meeting.
Sitharaman said she would hold a meeting with the secretaries of different ministries on Wednesday, and announce steps in consultation with the PMO to deal with the situation at the earliest.
"All concerned departments would be contacted by the finance ministry's different secretaries and the Principal Economic Adviser. The issues raised will be informed to them. They will apply their minds and come back tomorrow afternoon so that we talk among ourselves about the possible solutions."
After that, hopefully, the ministry will also have a discussion with the PMO and some response will be announced at the earliest, she said.
Describing pharma, chemical and solar equipment segments as the worst affected, the finance minister said disruptions are very visible in these sectors due to delay in shipments.
"There are no concerns about price rise so far due to coronavirus," she said, adding it is too early to talk about the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the Make in India initiative.
She also said there were no reports of shortage of medicines or medical equipment, instead, the pharma industry was asking for the lifting of the ban on exports of certain items.
Delays hit MSMEs
Speaking about the MSME sector, Sitharaman said representatives raised concerns about the delay in payments, which was affecting their repayment to banks.
Some MSMEs also said that if the cycle of receiving the goods, manufacturing and sending them out was getting affected, because of delayed or staggered raw material supply, banks would also have to understand that repayments will be taking their own time, she said.
"So to that extent they wanted flexibility from the banks. So everything got linked with raw material supply and congestion at the ports," she said.
During the meeting, industry body CII requested a task force be set up to address the spillovers of the coronavirus epidemic affecting China.
India Inc has also called for a reduction in import duties on antibiotic drugs, mobile parts and other items to help cope with the fallout from the outbreak which has disrupted supplies from China.
"The coronavirus pandemic in China is impacting critical inputs for the Indian industry, which may adversely impact small businesses and some jobs. A joint government-industry task force can institute risk mitigation measures on an immediate basis," the industry said.
The chamber has submitted its analysis on the impact of coronavirus and suggested quick policy action on three dimensions: mitigating risks arising from restrictions of imported inputs or disruptions to supply chains; shielding Indian exports to China; and boosting domestic manufacturing.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)