Apex industry association ASSOCHAM has suggested certain critical measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Indian economy. Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, President, ASSOCHAM, said, “The time to take action is right now. We need the implementation of these measures on a war footing if we are to save the Indian economy from tanking.”
The industry body has impressed upon the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to immediately announce a moratorium for debt-servicing (principal and interest) and requested a reduction in lending rates. They have also stated that the RBI should restructure bank loans across the board with adequate forbearance. In a joint position paper prepared by the ASSOCHAM and consulting firm Primus Partners, a strong case has been made for the government to extend an immediate relief of `3,000-5,000 per month - for a few months - to those working in majorly affected sectors Jan Dhan accounts. ASSOCHAM has also stated that urgent relief and lines of credit should be provided to the worst hit sectors such as tourism and hospitality, aviation, FMCG, and retail.
Committing itself to work with the central and state governments to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, ASSOCHAM has advised a calibrated approach for re-opening economic activities in phases, putting agriculture, export units, highly automated industries and selective construction ahead of other vital sectors. In a report titled ‘India opening for Business–Suggested calibrated approach and potential SoP’, the industry body has outlined a detailed plan. Deepak Sood, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM, said, “We have been working in close coordination with the centre and the state governments.”
ASSOCHAM has suggested that construction projects where sufficient labour is already at site, export-oriented units, government offices, e-commerce and agriculture are sectors which should open in the first phase. IT, ITES, professional services, food retailing, and hotels can follow while retail and transport sectors should be opened in the third phase.
Sood also said that the report has identified the challenges to the manufacturing sectors, both internally and externally, if gradual but consistent opening is not allowed. Sectors like food processing, automobile, textile, defence production, and electronic hardware must be re-booted fast or else there's a possibility of China, which has, to an extent, recovered from the coronavirus blow, would force out all other competitors including India.