In the Covid situation and the economic lockdown in India and the world over, it is imperative that we focus upon restoring both lives as well as livelihoods. As economic activities begin to pick up pace under Unlock 5.0, leading to full functioning of most sectors, we must go ahead fully cognizant of safety measures, at an individual, organizational, societal and national level.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call for precautionary measures is very timely at the brink of the festive season, one that presents a much-needed opportunity for an uptick in demand and recovery. Maintaining safety by using masks, keeping proper hand hygiene and ensuring minimum distance of at least two yards from each other, as emphasized by the Prime Minister, are central to safe progress of economic and business activities.
With stringent measures, we are now seeing a drop in daily new positive cases. CII is looking at restoring lives and livelihoods as a double pronged strategy for recovery. With livelihoods facilitated, it will be easier to restrain the pandemic.
For restoring lives, SMS is the mantra that we are strongly urging all to follow – S stands for Sanitization and handwashing, M stands for using the mask, S stands for social distancing. CII is reaching out to the industry and to the public at large to drive the message and ensure that SMS is implemented sincerely.
For restoring livelihoods, CII has been undertaking a plethora of initiatives. To understand the current situation of the Indian industry at all levels, CII has conducted several surveys on unlock conditions, business expectations and the regular CII Business Outlook Survey. The overall findings of the surveys indicate that recovery is around the corner as they show a significant increase in confidence, high hopes for recovery in the second half of the year and a rise in capacity utilization.
The CII National Council survey reveals an increase in business confidence and better corporate performance across key sectors like automobiles, FMCG, consumer durables and construction equipment.
On consumer demand, while 32% of the CEOs are hoping for better prospects, another 27% are expecting no change when compared to the second half of last year. 31% of the CEOs expected their revenue growth to be in positive territory in the second half of current financial year compared to last year as far as revenue growth is concerned. On exports, 40% of the CEOs expected better prospects and 24% expect no change in prospects during the second half of current year when compared to same period last year.
On similar lines, the CII Business Outlook Survey reveals a significant increase in expectations by 46 percent. The index went up from 41 in the April-June quarter to 50.3 for the July-September quarter. Almost 2 out of 5 of the participants expect capacity utilisation at over 75% in the current quarter.
While manufacturing firms had restarted operations in earlier phases of Unlock, services like retail, hotels, and restaurants are still not fully functional. The respondents were not in favour of closing down facilities, if workers tested positive. Instead, maintaining sanitation and quarantining people would tackle the problem, it was felt.
The surveys give an explicit account of the real issues being faced by the industry which primarily concern localized issues arising out of sporadic lockdown and non availability of transportation. Lack of transportation is a hindrance in getting workers back from their workplaces and also in the movement of raw materials and other essential items across the supply chain.
We strongly feel that the rise in the business confidence is a great sign for the industry and the overall economy. The reform measures brought in by the Government including new labour laws, redefinition of MSMEs, other benefits to the MSME sector and conducive sectoral policies are beginning to show an impact. The agricultural sector remained on a growth path this year, and with landmark reforms and the fund for agricultural infrastructure, it is setting the platform for strong recovery.
Covid has revealed to us the priority areas that must be emphasised, including healthcare, education, sustainability, and technology, among others. It would bring some positive transformations and opportunities can arise out of the crisis in terms of newer systems, businesses, processes, and employment opportunities.
I would urge all to #Unite2FightCorona and follow #SMSforCoronaSafety. Stay safe, stay healthy!