Problem Statement:

Given that at the time of writing this, no cure has been developed for COVID-19 and a suitable vaccine still in development, this note analyses whether lockdown of business (Complete or Partial) might have been the best way to handle the crisis. While we are always wise in hindsight, given that we are still living through the pain inflicted by COVID, the key points, this note is deliberating are still relevant.

India being a consumption driven economy, strict curbing of business activity will only have an undesirable effect on the people and the economy. Suspension of economic activity will only push the BPL, Marginal income earners, small businesses and people employed in the unorganized sector, further into the nadir. This note deliberates on a “selective lock down” approach which aims to strike a balance between resumption of economic activity and maintaining public health.

 Key Points:

Following are some of the selective lockdown measures which can fuel the economy forward without contributing to the spread of the disease

  • Instead of treating all businesses alike and shutting down economic activity in total, Government should have allowed priority sector activities like harvesting, cultivation etc to continue and then stepped in to purchase the related farm produce through FCI / STCs. Shutdown will have an adverse effect on these sectors, as apart from allowing the finished products to go waste and pushing farmers into losses, it could also potentially lead to farm produce shortages in the future resulting in inflationary trends.
  • Businesses like Airlines, Movie Theatres etc should have been allowed to operate with restriction e.g. if a movie theatre or aeroplane has a seating capacity of say 100, only 25% can be allowed to be filled, following due social distancing guidelines. Similar restricted movements to be allowed in industries like Hotels, Tourism etc, and also people with symptoms should not be allowed inside the theatre/aeroplane. Operating with social distancing restrictions, will help businesses recover atleast a part of their incurred costs.
  • Engineering and Automotive sector to be allowed to operate with only the asymptomatic people reporting to work, with the to and fro commute from home to office via controlled vehicular movement
  • Allowing substantial resumption of economic activity in the unaffected parts of the country
  • Resumption of interstate / intrastate movement of goods with sufficient disease control checks at entry points
  • Credit easing measures including interest subvention and interest free moratorium on loan repayments
  • In many states, liquor being a major source of income for the government, rationing of supplies would be better than a complete ban

Conclusion:

While no viable cure has been found yet and the verdict still out on herd Immunity. The Government and administrators are faced with a truly challenging problem to deal with. In this scenario, neither of the complete shut down or no restriction would be a viable option. A selective lockdown approach on easing restrictions with focus on public health and sustainable economic revival is the order of the day.

Expanding the rate on which the tests are conducted and allowing asymptomatic citizens to go about their normal life and isolating the sick and vulnerable people would be a better approach. Also with sufficient worldwide data available on the pandemic spread trends, the experience of other countries which have implemented selective lockdown measures needs to be studied and adopted.

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Qualification: CA in Practice
Company: FinYes Consulting
Location: chennai, Tamil Nadu, IN
Member Since: 10 Apr 2020 | Total Posts: 4

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