The core industries' output shrank by 6.5 per cent in March, which grew at an 11-month high rate of 5.5 per cent in the month of February.
Seven out of eight core sectors activities shrank in the month of March, when the country announced a nationwide lockdown. The core industries output contracted by 6.5 per cent in March, which was a free fall from 7.1 per cent in the month of February, according to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The highest contraction was observed in the cement industry that contracted by 24.7 per cent in the month. Other industries to show contraction of more than 10 per cent were natural gas (15.2 per cent), steel (13 per cent), and fertilisers (11.9 per cent). The only industry to expand during the period was coal, showing a growth rate of 4 per cent.
The adverse effect of coronavirus showed up at a time when the country’s core industries just came out of a prolonged phase of a slowdown. The output of core industries contracted for four straight months between August and October 2019. In fact, the core industries’ output shrank by 5.5 per cent in October 2019. Altogether, the growth of the core sector in the full fiscal stood at 0.6 per cent, which is at least a 7-year low. In the previous three fiscal years, the core sector grew at more than 4 per cent.
Meanwhile, from the last week of March, the industries succumbed to the nationwide lockdown that completely banned the movement of people and non-essential goods. However, this restriction was slightly lifted from April 20 and the permission was given to the industries to start operations, abiding by the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home affairs. While the industry bodies are appealing to the government to further relax the conditions for their operations, eyes are glued to the government’s forthcoming guidelines for the post-May 3 period.