New Delhi: Delhi government’s Committee for comprehensive analysis & suggestion regarding measures to be initiated by Deptts/Corporations/Local bodies to help people and businesses in a time of COVID pandemic held its first meeting today under the Chairmanship of Vice-Chairperson DDC, Jasmine Shah. The Committee was formed last week based on recommendations of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and LG Anil Baijal so that government and industry can work together closely to chart the roadmap for economic recovery in Delhi. The meeting was attended by Commissioner (Industries), Commissioner (South Delhi Municipal Corporation), Addl Commissioner (Labour), Spl Secretary (Environment) and several representatives from trade, industry and restaurant sectors in Delhi.
“By opening up early and putting a robust healthcare strategy in place, the Delhi government has set the right ground conditions for economic recovery in Delhi. The effect of that is being seen in terms of declining positivity rate, new cases and hospital bed occupancy in Delhi. At a time when many Indian cities are still oscillating between locking down and unlocking, Delhi’s firm focus on economic revival shows the tremendous progress we have made so far. By working together with industry stakeholders, Delhi govt is keen to come out stronger from the economic shock caused by COVID-19,” said Jasmine Shah after the meeting.
The meeting was also attended by Mekin Maheshwari, Co-founder of GAME (Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship) as a Special Invitee. Addressing the Committee, Maheshwari presented the work of the National Task Force on MSME Transformation constituted by GAME and consisting of industry stalwarts such as Ravi Venkatesan (Co-founder, GAME), Dr K P Krishnan (Former Secretary, Govt of India), Manish Sabharwal (Chairman, Teamlease) on the various measures that State and Central govt should adopt to revive MSMEs and entrepreneurship in the long-term. Based on the deliberations and inputs from various members of the Committee, it was decided that the Committee will adopt the Survive, Revive, Thrive approach to chart the roadmap for economic recovery in Delhi.
In the immediate short term (next 3-6 months), the focus will be on ensuring the survival of businesses and various industry sectors by revisiting licensing norms, simplifying COVID related regulations and taking measures to revive demand. In this context, Gyanesh Bharti, Commissioner (SDMC), highlighted that SDMC has already initiated the process for an automatic extension of all existing licenses issued by local bodies up to 31.03.2020 without interest or penalty. Commissioner (Industries) also shared the progress made by the Industries department in providing moratorium on lease rent on land issued by DSIIDC as well as a major reduction in the interest rate on penalties.
Several industry members expressed the urgency of undertaking measures to revive demand by taking industry-specific measures, e.g. by permitting outdoor sitting and extending hours of operations in restaurants, and by undertaking a joint effort among stakeholders at the individual market level by setting up control rooms to monitor social distancing and sanitization protocols to instill confidence in consumers regarding the safety of shopping in markets. Issues regarding the difficulty in accessing credit by new firms, who so far haven’t accessed credit from banks, were also highlighted.
In the medium-term (3 years), the Committee agreed to focus revival of the business environment by accelerating the pending reforms related to ease of doing business in Delhi. In the last 5 years, Delhi has already implemented several reforms related to ease of doing business, be it simplifying the process for new electricity connections, construction permits, or online issues of various licenses. Key pending reforms needed to be taken up now that would further improve the ease of doing business in Delhi and ensure a full economic revival from the impact of Covid-19, especially for MSMEs.
In the long term, providing a thriving business environment at par with global cities was a vision that the Committee agreed to work towards. Identifying and consolidating on sunrise sectors such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment and knowledge-based industries and providing a thriving atmosphere for startups were some of the measures discussed at the meeting.
By Lipakshi Seedhar: