Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday chaired a meeting of secretaries to assess the impact of the deadly Coronavirus outbreak on India, as the Centre chalks out measures to address trade concerns.
The Finance Minister reviewed the preparedness to deal with the issues surrounding the outbreak at a time when several sectors, including manufacturing and distribution, raised concern about businesses taking a hit and prices soaring. The Finance Ministry is likely to announce measures to deal with the issues over the outbreak after a meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Earlier in the day, the industry body, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) pitched for incentivising local manufacturers to exhort them towards making investments and tackle supply disruptions. “There should be incentives and other opportunities to fast track investments in India and position India as an alternative source,” Secretary-General, Ficci Dilip Chenoy said.
Both, the finance ministry and the Niti Aayog were “very responsive and the idea of doing sectoral approach to this (problem) and setting up of an inter-
ministerial coordination system to address was also appreciable”, the secretary-general told PTI.
While the finance minister had earlier denied there was a shortage of raw materials in the manufacturing sector, Niti Aayog along with top executives of the pharma industry and senior officials discussed ways to boost domestic manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) amid concerns of a disruption in supplies from China.
China accounted for 67.56 per cent of total imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates at $2,405.42 million to India in 2018-19.
The pharma industry, one of the worst affected in the weeks after the epidemic, is under severe pressure as drug prices shoot up. Prices of several drugs including antibiotics have soared at least 15-50 per cent over the possibility of curtailed supplies.
Business leaders have been demanding cuts in import duties on antibiotic drugs, mobile parts and other items. The Covid-19 outbreak has hit India’s manufacturing and exports of medicines, electronic, textile and chemicals as China is the biggest source of intermediate goods, worth $30 billion a year
In a meeting with trade bodies and industry leaders on Tuesday, Sitharaman had said, “We need to ready our ports as the manufacturing sector is affected due to congestions and there might be a rush of raw materials from China when the situation improves in the coming months.-Business Standard