Most businesses in sectors such as mining, construction, oil, gas, and coal and micro small and medium enterprises (MSME), which hoped to resume operations from April 20, have decided to remain shut. The dampener first came from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which issued stringent guidelines on April 15 with a clear set of dos and don’ts, which almost discourage businesses to restart operations.
As if that was not enough, the highhandedness of the local and state authorities have made life even tougher for businesspersons. Sources said that in many instances local authorities have harassed businesses, especially MSMEs, for opening their offices on April 20. “Many have been threatened by the local authorities, they have been warned of severe action in case any of their employees got infected,” Anil Bhardwaj, secretary general, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (Fisme), said.
Bhardwaj said that the association is in the process of issuing an advisory to its members to remain shut as threats mounted.
The MSME sector is one of the top employment generators in the country. Thousands of people, many of them daily wage earners and laborers, employed in this sector may lose their jobs due to severe cash crunch arising due to the lock down.
Amid unprecedented economic challenges and with several think tanks and rating agencies slashing India’s growth rate to either nil or negative or in the best scenario just about over 2 per cent, the government—state and Centre – must allow businesses to start functioning as normally as possible.
The authorities, instead of playing the bad cop, should understand that all businesses, for their own interest, will take the necessary precautions and ensure the safety of their employees. Let’s understand that even before the lockdown was announced, several companies and retail outlets made it mandatory for their employees and customers to use sanitizers. Many of them even started checking temperatures of their employees on a daily basis.
The government must not interfere in their functioning by laying strict rules in such a manner that they look like deterrents. It is not a favor that the government is doing by allowing businesses o function. In fact, at this critical time, the authorities must look at coming up with measures which are even more conducive and encouraging for businesses and entrepreneurs..