Nirmala Sitharaman Promises India Inc. Prompt Action Against Coronavirus Impact
Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister, speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Nirmala Sitharaman Promises India Inc. Prompt Action Against Coronavirus Impact

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The government will soon announce measures to deal with the impact of coronavirus outbreak on India’s industry and exports, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday.

These measures will be announced in consultation with the Prime Minister's Office, she told reporters in New Delhi after meeting industry representatives to assess the situation in the aftermath of the virus outbreak.

Sitharaman will now hold a meeting with the secretaries of different ministries on Wednesday and then announce steps 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,” the finance minister said.

After that, hopefully, the ministry will also have a discussion with the PMO and some response will be announced at the earliest, she added.

Describing pharma, chemical and solar equipment segments as worst affected, Sitharaman 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 small businesses, Sitharaman said the industry representatives raised concerns on delay in payments which is affecting their repayments to banks. Some MSMEs have also said that if the cycle of receiving the goods, manufacturing them and sending them out is getting affected, banks will also have to understand that repayments will be taking their own time, she said.

Also Read: The Key Sectors That Are Likely To Be Affected By Coronavirus Outbreak

"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, the Confederation of Indian INdustry requested a task force to be set up to address the spillovers of the coronavirus outbreak.

Also Read: Some Comfort For India As Coronavirus Threatens To Stall Asian Economy

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. "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," CII said.

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