Statement by UK Business Organisations on Government-Industry collaborations to combat COVID-19 and support the Indian Economy

By UK India Business Council (UKIBC)

The UK India Business Council, British Business Group, Delhi, and the Confederation of British Industry and our members wholeheartedly support the Government of India and State Governments’ efforts to combat COVID-19 and save lives through strict lockdown measures and the continued delivery of essential goods and services. The country is controlling the virus and the positive results in doing so are testament to the Government response and to the people of India.

We are grateful for, and impressed by, the actions taken post-lockdown by Governments across India to quickly resolve issues arising out of the lockdown. We also welcome the pragmatic measures announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 15th April, which strike a careful balance between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods.

UK businesses are playing their part in the response. Diageo has pledged to provide eight million bottles of sanitiser to help protect frontline healthcare workers. Standard Chartered has pledged INR 5 crore (US$ 0.7 million) towards fighting the spread of COVID-19 in India and is covering the rations and essentials of almost 70,000 vulnerable beneficiaries. Additionally, JCB has been supporting communities around its plants in Ballabhgarh, Jaipur, and Pune by providing meals to vulnerable communities, including stranded migrants, and is procuring PPEs, testing kits and medicines.

Our three organisations will continue to support the Government of India and State Governments, and have made three recommendations that we believe, if adopted, will help businesses and the whole economy rebound quickly as India emerges from the lockdown.

Recommendation 1

To ease cash flow challenges and enable employers to retain staff during this period of economic inactivity, the Government of India and State Governments should issue instructions to all Departments and PSUs to make all payments due to suppliers on an immediate basis. This would allow businesses in receipt of payments to retain staffing levels and pay their suppliers.

Recommendation 2

A fiscal stimulus package to support businesses and workers that have been forced to close or reduce output during the lockdown. This package should include: tax holidays; expanded credit under-written by the Government; and support to make salary payments.

Recommendation 3

A measure that would support the long-term growth of the economy and increase resilience within households and industry, and therefore the wider economy, would be to expand the insurance sector by increasing the FDI cap.

UK companies remain committed to India and continue to believe in the country’s development trajectory. We will continue to work with Government in India and the States to combat the virus and to support the growth of prosperity throughout and beyond the lockdown.

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