Friday 17 April 2020 5:33 AM UTC
LONDON April 17: Around 40 Indian business representatives logged on to a first-of-its-kind virtual roundtable organised by the Indian High Commission in London to address concerns around the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.
“Covid-19: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward”, organised in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), was aimed at giving a comprehensive understanding of the various stimulus measures unveiled by the UK government.
It also took stock of the issues and challenges being faced by Indian businesses across sectors such as financial services, hospitality, healthcare, information technology and IT services.
The government of India and the High Commission of India are constantly working in consultation with businesses and business organisations with regard to the government’s response to Covid-19, said Ruchi Ghanashyam, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK.
She welcomed the UK government’s initiative to extend the visas for Indian nationals currently unable to return home due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Indian-origin peer Lord Jitesh Gadhia briefed businesses about the various measures announced by the British government, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) as well as support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and highlighted the need for companies to prepare for a graduated and phased reopening strategy beyond the lockdown.
Fellow peer, Lord Karan Bilimoria, stressed on the need for public-private partnerships to devise a scheme for tech companies to navigate the pandemic.
Businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, but if we can line up the capacities of hospitals, testing, drug trails and in due course a vaccine, once the rate of Covid-19 infections, hospital admissions and deaths are on a consistent and confirmed downward direction, we can start to open up the economy in a phased manner, he said.
Baroness Usha Prashar, Chair of the FICCI UK Council, added: There is going to be a prolonged period of uncertainty and disruption and the new normal’ will be very different.
While response to immediate issues is crucial, so is thinking about the future adjustments businesses will have to make.
Planning for the future, particularly in areas such as the increasing role of technology, people skills and well-being, are some of the key areas.
The UK went into full coronavirus lockdown on March 23.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential work, exercise, and purchasing food or medicine. Citizens are only allowed one form of outdoor exercise a day.
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