COVID-19 Impact: MAIT urges govt to allow sales, servicing of electronics products during lockdown

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Published: April 14, 2020 4:15 AM

The association fears that if the sector is not allowed to operate, the industry will lose to Chinese imports, which would flood the market.

The association fears that if the sector is not allowed to operate, the industry will lose to Chinese imports, which would flood the market.

With work-from-home becoming a standard norm and authorities deciding to extend the lockdown period in a bid to check the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), electronics manufacturing industry has urged the government to include servicing, sales and production of laptops, mobiles and other products under essential goods and services.

The apex association for information and communication (ICT) products industry, MAIT has raised a concern over non-inclusion of manufacturing, sales and servicing of ICT products, including mobile phones in essential services at a time when reliance on such products and services has increased due to the lockdown.

The association fears that if the sector is not allowed to operate, the industry will lose to Chinese imports, which would flood the market.

Commending the efforts made by the government in tackling the pandemic, MAIT’s chief executive officer George Paul welcomed the recent circular by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), which clarified on the various lockdown measures to be followed by states.

MHA has asked states to implement lockdown guidelines in “letter and spirit” for hassle-free movement of inter as well as intra-state goods, trucks, workers and functioning of warehouse and cold storages.

Speaking to FE, Paul said, “However, there is an all-round concern on the non-inclusion of mobile and ICT products under essential goods and services”.

India’s digital and communication highways run on these products. The utilities, telcos, IT-ITeS, hospitals, government departments, manufacturing and small & medium enterprises (SMEs) need these products. Further, the SME’s whose mobile and ICT infrastructure is not “work from home” are totally paralysed, he explained.

“Digital and communication highways built using mobile and ICT products is an essential utility with every sector and citizen dependent on it, just like electricity. Further, today the manufacturing, distribution and service of mobiles and ICT products have come to a standstill. China has opened up its factories. If Indian factories do not open up, Chinese imports will swamp into India as there is no local electronic manufacturing and supplies,” Paul added.

Another industry body, ICEA, too had approached the government with a similar recommendation. It pointed out that higher than normal usage due to work from home will result in the need for regular maintenance, repair, service and the replacement of old gadgets.

ICEA also shared the experiences of USA, New Zealand, Italy and Canada, where respective governments have included telecommunications/ICT services as well as service support and sales of such communications devices for residential use, in the list of essential services.

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