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Steps soon to deal with virus impact

Allaying fears:Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with industry leaders in New Delhi.Sushil Kumar VermaThe Hindu

Allaying fears:Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with industry leaders in New Delhi.Sushil Kumar VermaThe Hindu  

Nirmala meets industry leaders

Disruption in supply of raw materials from China due to the coronavirus outbreak could have a serious impact on several Indian industries, especially the pharma sector, industry leaders told Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a consultation on the issue on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Ms. Sitharaman downplayed fears of any immediate price rise of medicines or other products, saying there were no reports of immediate shortages. However, official sources present at the meeting said most sectors have three to four weeks of raw materials available, adding that the longer-term impact is still uncertain.

In fact, the pharma sector has suggested that if necessary, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) could be airlifted to India, sources said. As this would push up prices, industry representatives requested that customs duties be reduced if such a situation occurs, said officials.

Ms. Sitharaman said the Secretaries of the Finance Ministry would coordinate meetings with secretaries of other stakeholder Ministries on Wednesday to chart a government response to the outbreak and the issues raised by industry leaders.

Measures would be announced “soon”, after consultations with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms. Sitharaman said.

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