Bhubaneswar: A leading industry body in Odisha has sought a stimulus package from the state govt to tide over the economic crisis as a result of the lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) welcomed the extension of the lockdown till April 30 to combat the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 pandemic but at the same time, in a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the industry body voiced concerns about the economy, saying some sectors need special attention for survival.
The UCCI, an apex chamber representing major, medium, small, minor industries as well as trade and commerce said the major issue before all businesses during the lockdown is logistics, without which no one can plan, execute manufacturing or provide services. “Seamless transportation is a necessity for which instructions, across the line, should be issued for allowing transportation activities because overenthusiastic villagers at many places are causing trouble,” UCCI president Ramesh Mahapatra said in the letter to the chief minister which was released to the media on Sunday. He said major industries are facing the problem of transporting raw materials to factories and extraction of finished goods.
Similarly, acute labour shortages in factories, warehouses, transport sector and distribution have broken the supply chain to a great extent, Mahapatra said.
This is a grey area which needs to be handled after the lockdown is lifted but even now for continuation of certain allowable activities, he said. With the closure of most of the establishments, payment of wages to employees has become difficult since the lockdown measures have severely impacted cash flows, and many establishments might close down their businesses if they are unable to comply with the labour department directive. “We request the state government to look into the directive again as the lockdown has been extended,” he said.
We sincerely appeal that the wages should be paid at a reduced rate for at least 6 months, he said.
The chamber also urged the government to waive the demand charges and also the electricity duties for the lockdown period and claimed that similar steps have been taken in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
To induce cash flow into the business, we propose to provide loan against GST paid by the business at 3 per cent rate of interest, he said.
The hotel and tourism sector is the worst hit due to the lockdown, he said, adding, suitable revival packages will bring back the industry on survival path which will be beneficial to the State in many ways.
Therefore, excise fees, levies, taxes, and power & water charges should be waived for the tourism, travel and hospitality industry for the April-June 2020 quarter, Mahapatra said.
Prawn farming has also suffered a major blow because of the closure or partial running of processing plants, he said.
A suitable stimulus package to the fishing community, fish farmers and processors may be considered, Mahapatra added.