Govt to soon announce measures to deal with coronavirus impact on industry: FM

PTI
Tuesday, 18 February 2020

"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 the mind and come back tomorrow afternoon so that we talk among ourselves about the possible solutions." 

New Delhi: 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 told reporters here 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 in the meeting. 

Sitharaman said she would hold a meeting with the secretaries of different ministries on Wednesday and then 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 the mind 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 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 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 is asking for the lifting of the ban on exports of certain items.
 
Speaking about the MSME sector, Sitharaman said the representatives raised concern about the delay in payment which is affecting their repayment to banks. 

Some MSMEs have also said that if the cycle of receiving the goods, manufacturing and sending them out is getting affected, because of delayed or staggered raw material supply, banks will 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, congestion at the ports," she said. 

During the meeting, industry body CII requested a task force to 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, namely, mitigating risks arising from restrictions of imported inputs or disruptions to supply chains; shielding Indian exports to China; and boosting domestic manufacturing.

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