Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his effort to contain the spread of coronavirus virus, held discussions with various industry representatives, including ASSOCHAM, FICCI, and CII, through video conference on Monday. He urged industry stakeholders to adopt a humanitarian approach and not to cut down workforce despite the negative impact on their businesses.
PM Modi said that while the government was working on giving fillip to the pace of growth in the country, an unforeseen hurdle in the form of COVID-19 came in front of the economy. "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," he said.
The Prime Minister said that the fulcrum of the economy is trust. "Trust has a unique yardstick - it is earned or lost in difficult and challenging times. The parameters of trust are at a critical juncture in various sectors of the economy," he said.
The PM thanked the industry representatives for speaking in one voice on the needs of the unorganised sector and said that this marks a new dawn of economic integration. He asked them to allow employees to work from home wherever doing so is feasible through using technology.
He said it is imperative that 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 'swachhta' and following medical advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at factories, offices and workplace. He added that social distancing is the biggest weapon in our fight against preventing the spread of the virus. He also requested them to use their CSR funding for humanitarian causes related to the pandemic at this critical juncture.
Several sectors like tourism, construction, hospitality and daily life engagements including the informal sector have been severely hit due to COVID-19, which will have impact on the economy going ahead.
The industry representatives thanked the Prime Minister for leading from the front and taking swift, front-footed action to counter the threat. They 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 creation of isolation wards, utilisation of CSR funds for combating COVID-19 and provision of assistance for migrant labour.
In the meeting, specific issues being faced by sectors like banking, finance, hospitality, tourism, and infrastructure were discussed. The industry bodies 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.
Since January PM Modi held several rounds of meetings and discussions with people from various walks of life and officials in order to find ways and means to fight COVID-19. He had been holding meetings on a daily basis wherein he is updated regularly by the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office.
Prime Minister is also being updated by the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up under the chairmanship of the Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on the steps being taken by the government.
By Chitranjan Kumar