Retail industry reaches out to government for respite from COVID-19 business impact March 2020
The finance minister, in an announcement, said that a welfare fund of Rs 310 billion will eb set aside for building and other construction workers. The fund has been announced with an aim to assist and support the construction workers in the country so that they stay under lock down and do not expose themselves to any sort of risk, considering everything has come to a halt. The state governments will be given directions on the utilisation of the funds to support and assist the construction workers. The announced scheme is expected to benefit 3.5 crore registered building and construction workers.
CW lists industry reactions on the move.
Says Pradeep Aggarwala, Founder & Chairman, Signature Global, and Chairman, National Council on Affordable Housing, ASSOCHAM, “The workers are one of the most vital elements in the construction industry and thus, we welcome the government’s decision to extend helping hand to construction workers through effective use of the building and other construction welfare funds. In fact, all the measures taken by the government will help the labour force working in the construction sector directly or indirectly as one or two members of their family will get benefit of one scheme or the other. In the current tense situation, the decision by the government is a welcome relief.”
Adds Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, President, ASSOCHAM and NAREDCO, “At the time when the nation is struck with natural disaster and grappling with pandemic crisis, the Government of India has announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief packages for the poor and marginalised segments of the society. These initiative aims to provide a buffer and facilitate the basic needs of economically weak people who have no other means of being shielded from the crisis. The widely covered unorganised sectors including agrarian and construction labourers, these moves aim at resolving primary problems of the poor. Similarly, for the organised sector, EPF contribution by the government for some segments of workers will play an important role in ensuring that the bottom of the pyramid is able to handle the challenges of the lockdown. Nearly 80 per cent of construction workers fall under the unorganised sector, the worker's welfare fund of Rs 310 billion to be utilised exclusively for construction workers would benefit 3.5 crore workers directly. It will help to mitigate epidemic loss. While welcoming these moves, one hopes that other segments of society, who are also looking forward to measures such as EMI waivers as also an extension of loan scheme tenures, among others, the package shall be on a wait and watch mode. The finance minister deserves praise for having announced the relief measures, responding to the challenge of the lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Adds JC Sharma, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Sobha, “The step to support the construction workers with Rs 310 billion workers' welfare fund is most thoughtful. This is laudable as it will provide the much-needed relief to 3.5 crore construction workers country wide, who are mostly dependent on daily wages. These steps will certainly help overcome the current challenges and will aid in rebuilding the economy”.
For Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and PropTiger.com, “It is the need of the hour and an effective use of the contingency fund. This will bring a great relief for people facing the biggest challenge because of the lock-down and will help induce some positivity across the board.”
Adds Ashok Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Ajnara India, “There are about 3.5 crore registered construction workers. Their life will be impacted due to the lockdown. It is important that the corpus of the building and construction welfare fund is effectively utilised at this crucial juncture.”
“The entire economy will be impacted, but it is the economic weaker section who will suffer the most. In such a scenario, the government's decision to tap construction workers welfare fund is a move in right direction,” avers Vikas Bhasin, Managing Director, Saya Homes.