Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 23 interacted with industry representatives from the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and several local chambers from 18 cities across the country via video conference against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
The Prime Minister said that while the government was working on giving a fillip to the pace of growth in the country, an unforeseen hurdle in the form of COVID-19 had come in front of the economy. He said that the challenge posed by the pandemic is “graver than even that posed by the World Wars and we need to be on constant vigil to prevent its spread”.
Prime Minister Modi said that the fulcrum of the economy is trust. Trust has a unique yardstick - it is earned or lost in difficult and challenging times, he said, and added that the parameters of trust are at a critical juncture in various sectors of the economy.
He said that several sectors like tourism, construction, hospitality and daily life engagements including the informal sector have been hit due to COVID-19. The impact on the economy will be felt for some time to come.
The industry representatives informed the Prime Minister about the steps being taken by them to maintain supply lines of essential items and medical equipment including ventilators, assistance in the creation of isolation wards, utilization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for combating COVID-19 and provision of assistance to migrant labour.
There was also a discussion about the specific issues being faced by sectors like banking, finance, hospitality, tourism, infrastructure, and industry representatives requested for help to overcome these challenges through financial and fiscal assistance. Industry representatives also appreciated the importance of instituting a lockdown, irrespective of economic losses, to prevent the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Modi asked the industry representatives to allow employees to work from home wherever doing so is feasible through using technology. He exhorted them to adopt a humanitarian approach and not to cut down on the workforce in spite of the negative impact on their businesses.
Prime Minister Modi said it is imperative that the production of essential items should not be impacted at this time, and black marketing and hoarding be prevented. He reminded them about the importance of cleanliness and following medical advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at factories, offices, and workplaces.
Principal Secretary, Cabinet Secretary and Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade also participated in the meeting.
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