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FICCI says India cannot afford prolonged lockdown, suggests plan for staggered exit

While the COVID-19 crisis persists, government and its agencies are debating exit strategies and trying to work out a comprehensive framework towards it.


According to a note by FICCI, a country like India can’t afford to have a prolonged lockdown that lasts for months. In the week ended March 29, the unemployment rate had shot up to 23.8 percent, as data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.


FICCI suggests resumption of business to reduce the impact on the economy.

The exit strategy should normalise economic and social activity and yet contain the disease from spreading and getting out of control.


The report suggests principles of an exit strategy which include continuation of social distancing and protection of vulnerable population which will increase the burden of health care cost, morbidity and mortality.


With a staggered exit from lockdown, the areas with no COVID-19 cases and no migration of workers should allow all sectors and services to operate. Further, these areas should allow local procurement. Transportation of goods to non-COVID-19 affected areas should be allowed freely.


The report suggests allowing separate special transportation to non-COVID-19 areas using bus and railways where migration workers are needed, allowing workers only post-testing.


Harvesting season is on and scarcity of labour has affected the agricultural sector. FICCI suggests district collectors should be advised to ensure full harvesting and MNREGA workers should be used for harvesting.


In the exit strategy, e-commerce platforms and all its value chain players should be enabled so that supplies are not stopped, and people can stay home. Further, the government needs to ensure on-ground e-commerce is enabled truly with MHA orders.


Small businesses may be affected deeply by the ongoing crisis. The government should keep higher import duties for products (other than essential and raw material to a finished product) for a period of six months which will give protection and boost to the domestic industry.


To prevent uncontrolled dumping from China, the government needs to come out with suitable policy response such as strict anti-dumping measures like anti-dumping duties for certain products.


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