Coronavirus: Ficci suggests more virus testing, economic measures and phase-wise lockdown relaxation

New Delhi, Apr 9 () Industry body Ficci has suggested phase-wise lifting of lockdown, starting with certain sections including healthy persons in the age group of 22 to 39 to resume work so that the wheels of the economy are set in motion, along with measures to support MSMEs and augment mass testing facilities.

In a detailed note on "exit strategy", the chamber said farmers should be encouraged to sell their produce through e-NAM directly without needing to take the produce physically to APMC centres.

It called for movement of all goods traffic without any distinction of essential/non-essential to be allowed immediately.

"Already advisories have been circulated to this effect but on ground it is not being implemented in many places. Police and other local administration need to be sensitised," Ficci said.Advertisement

To facilitate the country's micro, small snd medium enterprises (MSMEs) to resume operations normally, the chamber has recommended keeping import duties for products other than essential and which are raw material to a finished product on higher side for a period of 6 months which will give protection and boost to domestic industry.

"We may have a problem of uncontrolled dumping from China - government needs to come out with suitable policy response such as strict anti-dumping measures like anti-dumping duties for certain products," Ficci said.

It further suggested that all pending payments from central and state governments be immediately cleared and paid to companies so that working capital locked under receivables would be released and this can be used for funding operations.
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The chamber has also sought extension of 3 per cent interest subvention for working capital as well as term loans for MSMEs, along with rebate or deferment on electricity bills and tax deferment, including GST without any penalties.

According to Ficci, the exit strategy should aim towards bringing about a fine balance that on one hand normalizes economic and social activity and yet contains the disease from spreading and getting out of control. For smooth functioning, it suggested that e-commerce and all its value chain players be enabled so that supplies are not stopped, and people can stay home. Advertisement

Besides, it said all the public gathering places should be under lockdown till April 30 and post that should open up in a phased manner.

Weddings, conferences, sports events and other such gatherings should be banned till May 2. Malls, cinema halls, restaurants should continue to be closed, said the chamber, adding that restaurants should be allowed to continue with their home delivery services.

Ficci also recommended staggered opening of schools from May 1 onwards.Advertisement

"One of the big gaps that we are currently facing is the lack of mass testing capability which is limiting our understanding on the true scale of spread of the disease. It is extremely important at this stage to augment mass testing and ensure a disciplined and a cautious approach adopted by the grass-root functionaries and community duly monitored by local authorities," it said.

On transportation, Ficci said buses in cities should be increased by roping in private transport operators and people permitted to occupy only window seats on alternate rows.

The chamber has called for partial removal of lockdown restrictions gradually to enable limited movement of trains to allow people to travel only for very urgent matters like migrant labour, persons displaced from home, medical urgency, essential services related etc. and said domestic travel by air should be opened especially between destinations not affected much by COVID-19. RSN MKJ
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