IT ministry asks MHA to consider mobile products as essential goods after industry demand
The mobile manufacturing industry, which is staring at an estimated loss of over Rs 20,000 crore because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, has urged the MeitY for broadening the definition of essential goods.
The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has urged the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to consider broadening the definition of essential goods and include information and communications technology (ICT) products while deferring to a plea from the mobile manufacturing industry.
On Wednesday, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the ministry has taken note of mobile manufacturers’ concerns and has drawn the MHA authorities’ attention to them. The minister made the statement after holding a meeting with industry players, associations, and chambers of the electronics goods market.
The mobile manufacturing industry, which is staring at an estimated loss of over Rs 20,000 crore because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, has urged the MeitY for broadening the definition of essential goods in a bid to allow online and offline sales of mobile device and networking products.
They have also pleaded with the ministry that all authorised sales and service centres of all electronics goods be allowed to resume their services.
Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of the Indian Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA), said that the industry is facing a severe crisis due to the viral outbreak. “The industry is in deep trouble. Production losses are estimated to be around Rs 20,000 crore. All companies’ plants are closed. Exports losses have gone up to Rs 2,500 crore and 2.5 crore mobile phones are lying unrepaired. Our meeting with the minister ended on a note of cautious optimism. Hopefully, the government will take immediate action by including the mobile manufacturing industry as an integral part of essential goods,” Mohindroo said.
Prasad announced during the meeting that Aarogya Setu, a Covid-19 tracking mobile application developed by the MeitY’s National Informatics Centre, has been downloaded a record eight crore times. The minister said that electronics factories should be opened in a calibrated manner.
Prasad has asked the electronics goods companies to ramp up production of medical electronics such as ventilators because of the equipments growing demand to treat Covid-19 patients. He also urged the IT sector to take advantage of three new government schemes that would be launched soon to attract global investments and strengthen the industry in a post-Covid-19 world.
“The minister said that the country’s domestic demand is going to be huge, as the lockdown restrictions have increased people’s dependence to transact via the digital medium. He asked the industry to increase exports to cater to growing global demands,” said an official, who was present at the meeting.
Industry players told Prasad that major electronics manufacturing clusters in Noida, Greater Noida, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh are facing local restrictions because of their presence in high-risk Covid-19 zones. Prasad, however, allayed their concerns and told them that he has already had a word with respective states seeking their cooperation.
Mobile phone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Foxconn, Lava, Wistron, Oppo, Flex, Sterlite, Micromax, Deki Electronics, Tejas Networks Ltd, and, Panasonic, etc., attended Wednesday’s meeting, which took place a day after Prasad held talks with all his state counterparts.
Industry bodies, including the ICEA, Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD), Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA), Ph.D. Chambers, and Indian Telephone Industry Limited (ITI), among others, also attended the meeting.