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Nation, Current Affairs

Nirmala Sitharaman to announce steps to address coronavirus impact on Indian companies.

Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: With the lockdown in China caused by deadly coronavirus getting prolonged, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that the government will announce contingency measures after assessing the impact of the epidemic on the Indian economy.

The minister met industry representatives to review the situation following concerns were raised about the prospective shortage of certain goods and a resultant increase in prices after imports from China were stopped after the outbreak of the epidemic in the neighbouring country.

Addressing media persons later, Ms Sitharaman said she would hold a meeting with the secretaires of different ministries on Wednesday and announce steps to deal with the (emerging) situation in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office.
Industry bodies have cautioned the government about the impact of disruption in supply chain on the Indian economy, who-se annual growth has alre-ady slowed down to a 10-year-low at five per cent.

“We were informed that there is a possibility of massive price hikes due to shift of import of raw material from China to Middle East or Europe. Almost all industry bodies have cautioned us about price hikes on plants, machinery, petrochemicals due to congestion at the Eastern Indian ports,” said the source.

The minister, however, ruled out any concerns about price rise. “There are no concerns about price rise so far due to Coronavirus and it is too early to talk about the impact of Covid-19 outbreak on the Make in India initiative,” she said.

Ms Sitharaman also denied reports of shortage of medicines or medical equipment. “However, there could be some disruptions in supplies and concerns have been expressed by the representative of pharma, solar and chemical industries.”

India Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary general Sudarshan Jain called the situation grim and said that the pharma industry has adequate stocks of active pharmaceutical ingredient (APIs) only for three months.

China accounted for 67.56 per cent of total imports of bulk drugs, which are used to make medicine in the country.

Most of the Indian industry is seeking a reduction in the quarantine period for people and consignments coming from China.