UKIBC hold roundtable with Government of India on Indian lockdown

By Surbhi Mathur

UKIBC, with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Invest India, held a virtual roundtable on 4th May for British businesses in India to discuss how businesses and governments can work together to minimise the negative economic consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown. We were also delighted to be joined by representatives from the British High Commission.

High level Government representatives noted the fantastic cooperation between the public and private sectors since the lockdown in India. Reference was also made to the recent UKIBC submissions and ongoing engagement with the Government of India and State Governments. To date, 70% of the recommendations in the submission have been implemented, and work is progressing in other areas.

At the roundtable, our members, across sectors such as Energy, Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, Oil and Gas, Food and Drink, and Advanced Manufacturing and Defence, highlighted a range of issues including: priority sector lending requirements placed on banks; logistics, including  the movement of people in and around towns/cities; the need to revive credit growth to ensure businesses remained liquid; the need for the Indian Revenue Department to improve corporate liquidity by releasing monies owed against GST input credits; and the extra financial burden being placed on exporters, importers and, ultimately, consumers due to inflated shipping and warehousing costs.

The Government welcomed all of the suggestions, and invited further written submissions which the UKIBC is preparing.

These recommendations build on our recent recommendations submitted together with CBI and British Business Group Delhi, including for the Government of India (GoI) to ease companies’ cash flow challenges by making payments due to suppliers on an immediate basis.

It was clear from the roundtable that the GoI is committed to re-starting business activities. Appropriately, this is being done in a way that prioritises the wellbeing of people.

It was also clear that the Government is continuing to look for ways to improve the ease of doing business in India and, as a consequence, to attract FDI. The GoI stressed that FDI has been, and will remain, important to India’s development story, with the capital and technology attracted to India creating jobs and economic growth.

The point was well made that the UK has been one of the top sources of FDI, so UK companies and their interests in India will always remain important. UKIBC will share the recommendations from industry with DPIIT and Invest India in the aforementioned submission, and will continue to advocate for sensible solutions with the GoI.

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