New Delhi: Appealing to the government to take a more pragmatic view of the lockdown conditions, the Confederation of Indian Industry ( CII) on Tuesday put forth a number of suggestions, which the industry body said could substantially ease the economic pain of the ongoing covid crisis and reduce hardships faced by households and industry alike. This includes a relaxation of social distancing norms for the IT and ITeS industry, restoration of courier services for both essential and non essential goods and allowing of full movement of self employed persons such as electricians, plumbers and mechanics among others, who are all part of the essential maintenance and support services availed by households as well as commercial establishments.

“In the IT and ITeS sector only 50% staff attendance is currently allowed but here the key rule is social distancing. Any establishment that can fulfill this stipulation should be allowed. It should be on self-certification. It should be amended to clarify that e-commerce companies for both essential as well as non-essential commodities are allowed” CII said in its memorandum.

Seeking clarity from the government on the demarcation of contaminant zones, CII said that there is a need for further directions from the government on how to operate within the zones and select business activity already permitted should be allowed even in the hotspots. Alongside, CII has maintained that distinction needs to be made between red zone districts and Containment Zones within the districts. “In districts where specific containment zones have been identified and barricaded, the rest of the areas in the district should be allowed for industrial operations in the permitted list,” CII said in the memorandum.

“The government may consider reviewing/evaluating hotspots regularly at the district and larger city level. If found safe, the entrepreneurial activities may be allowed. There is a need to define hotspots clearly and publish a list of hotspots and containment zones on a real-time basis. If permission is given to start, and if Hotspots expand rapidly, do firms need to close down suddenly? A clear guideline is needed on this,” it added.

The government should let people decide what essentials are, and it should be a level-playing field as the earlier guidelines allowed e-commerce to sell non-essentials (which was later withdrawn) and not the offline players, said Arvind Mediratta, managing director and CEO, METRO Cash & Carry India. “The list of essentials needs to be broadened to include kitchen essentials, stationery, computers, IT accessories, and it needs to be done in a fair way, and phased way,” he said. Mediratta who is also part of FICCI’s committee on retail and internal trade and co-chair of the food processing committee at CII said that such representations are being made keeping in mind both online and offline retailers,”as long as a level-playing field is allowed.

Additionally, CII said that it fears that state government / local authorities will be flooded with an excessive volume of applications, which would create delay in kick-starting the economic activities and there is a need to clarify that whether government’s new guidelines merely provide “select additional activities” that will be permitted from 20 April 2020 and do not in any manner restrict activities that were already permitted under the existing guidelines, unless such permitted activity/ establishment falls within a notified containment zone.

CII further appealed that manufacture, processing, packaging, sales marketing and any commercial establishments dealing in any ‘packaged food & beverages” should also be allowed. Alongside, depots, warehouses, stores for any “packaged food & beverages”’ products and any other commercial establishments related to the same. This will also be in line with the advisory of the Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing the industry body said.

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