The government’s all-out efforts to allay widespread panic and fear among the business establishments in the wake of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ stringent guidelines on the dos and don’ts have failed to bear fruits. Most businesses, especially those categorized as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), are unhappy with the guidelines even as the government said that these measures were precautionary in nature.
Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s spokesperson on economic affairs said that there was no need for any panic. “These are just temporary measures in the wake of coronavirus and will be reviewed,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister’s Office is keeping a close watch on the situation.
“The guidelines are also to ensure that the workers are fully taken care of are not put into any kind of undue problems,” Agarwal said.
Industry remains unconvinced. Anil Bhardwaj, secretary general, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (Fisme), said that the MHA guidelines give a lot of discretion to the visiting inspectors. “The need of the hour is a pragmatic set of guidelines, taking into account local conditions and after consultation with medical experts. All business establishments are not huge complexes. There may be very small factories,” he said.
Many small businesses have already complained of harassment from local authorities.
An entrepreneur of a food business said that complying with the guidelines will significantly push up expenses, at a times when revenues have choked. “We have to ensure sanitization, regular monitoring of temperature, work with fewer staff and most importantly provide medical insurance to all staff members, these cannot be done in instantly, we have to re-chalk our business plans,” he said.
Meanwhile the government has started chalking out a roadmap for lifting the lockdown from May 3. Sources said that while several economic activities will be allowed to start operations, restrictions on travel, eating out among other things may continue for a longer period of time..