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FM Sitharaman allays fears on price rise, to discuss COVID-19 with PMO

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New Delhi, Feb 18, 2020-

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said she will discuss with the PMO about the relief that could be offered to industry but allayed any immediate worries about scarcity of any raw materials as yet on account of inventories built up by sectors as also on price rise.

“There could be some disruptions in supplies and concerns have been expressed by the representative of pharma, solar and chemical industries,” she said, adding the industry has sought easier bank payments and paperwork processes.

“The government will soon announce measures to deal with the impact of Coronavirus outbreak on the domestic industry,” she said.

“There are no concerns about price rise (of medicines) so far. There is no report of shortage of masks and medicines in Indian hospitals. In fact, there was a demand from those who manufacture medical devices to remove ban on exports,” she said on the impact of Coronavirus.

Responding to questions, Sitharaman also said that it is too early to talk about impact of Coronavirus outbreak on the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

She said following Tuesday’s meeting, Secretary-level meetings on the impact and relief will be held on Wednesday and the Finance Ministry Secretaries will talks to the assigned departmental secretaries for pinning down the problems. “Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal will also be part of this exercise,” she said.

The minister added the industry has sought self-declaration by Customs from the Indian companies to release their stocks as since the necessary paperwork is not coming from China, their stocks have been held here in the ports.

“The Secretaries will come with some solutions tomorrow post which hopefully we will also have a discussion with the PMO and some response will be announced at the earliest,” she said.

“MSMEs wants banks flexibility on repayment on delay of any supply. All the sector have stated that there is supply disruptions due to Coronavirus. But there is no talk of price rise due to these supply side issues,” the minister said.

The Finance Ministry had invited industry and trade members to give their feedback on the Coronavirus outbreak impacts. The meeting discussed on immediate contextual challenges and opportunities in supply chain of export & imports.

During their meeting with Sithraman, pharma companies requested the government to consider airlifting of API supplies from China, in order to avoid any shortage of pharma manufacturing and availability of drugs.

The worst-hit sectors among industry are electronics, textile, steel and pharma. The Indian industry which is in the grip of a slowdown is dependent on China on many raw materials like telecom and IT components, smart phones, computers and the government in Tuesday’s meeting was taking stock of the fact that the production and supply chain is not disrupted for the manufacturing industry.  (Agency)

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