India, which has been on a 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, is planning to lift the ban on manufacturing in some sectors so as to mitigate the damage to the economy.
The Indian government is mulling to extend the lockdown beyond the earlier planned April 15 deadline as the number of infected people has risen to 9,152, with the death toll reaching 308, according to the latest figures. The lockdown is likely to be extended to the end of the month. Some states within the country have already announced their decision to be shut down till April 30.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has asked his cabinet colleagues to come up with an action plan to open up some crucial sectors to help the millions of workers whose livelihood has been affected by the total lockdown. Sources in the government have revealed that some guidelines were being discussed to ensure that manufacturing in certain sectors could be resumed after keeping in mind social distancing and all safety measures in place. The shift system is being recommended so that there is no crowding of workers at a time.
The industries ministry, in a letter to the home ministry, has recommended restarting some manufacturing in the autos, textiles, defense, electronics, and other sectors. “We believe some industries could be allowed with reasonable safeguards as long as social distancing norms are maintained," said an official from the industries department.
Besides the industries ministry, other ministries are also preparing plans for resumption of activities under their purview.
The economic downturn due to the pandemic will add to the woes of an economy that was already at its lowest rate of growth in the past 5 years. The world's biggest lockdown may have cost the Indian economy Rs 7-8 lakh crore during the 21-day period, analysts said. Centrum Institutional Research said the country again stares at the possibility of low single-digit growth for FY2021 (April 2020 to March 2021)."Nationwide complete lockdown is likely to shave off at least Rs 7-8 trillion," it said.
The 21day lockdown is likely to cost India almost $4.64 billion (over Rs 35,000 crore) every day and a GDP loss of almost USD 98 billion (about Rs 7.5 lakh crore), estimates Acuite Ratings & Research Ltd, a credit rating agency. "While the countrywide shutdown is scheduled to be lifted from April 15, 2020, the risks of prolonged disruption in economic activities exist depending on the intensity of the outbreak," read a note from Acuite.
The unemployment rate is bound to go up in the country. The Confederation of All India Traders says the retail trade has lost a massive $30 billion in the past one month due to the pandemic. More than 450 million people are working in the retail sector.
The World Bank put India's growth rate at 1.5 to 2.8 percent in the coming year. Rating agencies have downgraded India's rating for 2021. It was estimated to be around 5.5 percent, but now rating agencies say India's growth rate for the coming fiscal year will be around 2.5 percent. The real estate sector puts the loss at Rs 1 lakh crore. and the All India Motor Transport Corporation says their sector has already lost Rs 35,00 crore.
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