Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday held a virtual conference with India’s leading entrepreneurs amid the prevailing second wave of Covid-19 and praised the industry for stepping up in the fight against the pandemic.
Addressing more than 150 senior industry captains in a virtual interaction organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Delhi, the finance minister emphasised the need for adopting a micro-containment zone strategy in order to effectively with the second surge of the pandemic.
On meeting the phenomenal increase in the demand for medical oxygen, a critical treatment tool to fight Covid-19, Sitharaman assured that the Centre is working to ensure a seamless supply to states. Measures that the government is taking include importing medical oxygen, round the clock working of the oxygen filling stations and allowing containers used for nitrogen and argon to be used for oxygen, the Finance Minister added.
The Finance Minister also gave details on the government’s initiatives to help build up the capacity of Remdesivir from 36 lakh vials per month to 78 lakh vials. Some of these measures include rapid clearances for new capacities, stopping exports, stopping the exports of APIs and formulations used in the manufacture of this life-saving drug, and allowing EoUs and manufacturers located in SEZs to also sell in the domestic market, she said, according to a press release issued by the Centre.
During the interaction, CII members manufacturing Remdesivir apprised the finance minister that they were working towards exceeding the committed target of 78 lakh vials per month and aimed to reach a production of 1 crore vials per month.
Elaborating on the recent announcements on the vaccination, the Finance Minister said that the CII’s suggestions on opening up of the vaccination to all adults, allowing industry to vaccinate its employees and their families and allowing vaccine imports have all been accepted in the policy. The Government has also cleared an advance payment of Rs 4,600 crore to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, to help them ramp up capacities.
Welcoming the CII suggestions on mitigating the impact to the economy to save livelihoods, alongside lives, the finance minister assured an examination of the same.
Earlier, Uday Kotak, President CII and Managing Director & CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank, lauding the government’s policy action for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 72 hours, emphasised the importance of vaccination and ensuring adequate supplies of oxygen, medicines and beds in the immediate term.
In the medium term, he emphasised ramping up research to identify and tackle the mutants and to upgrade the vaccines. He also suggested building India’s capacity in terms of supplies and medical infrastructure to address any possible future waves.