The Emerging Economic Opportunities in the post Covid Scenario
The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry conducted a Virtual CEO Forum Meeting on Saturday, 8th of August, 2020.
Sri. A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish I.A.S., Principal Secretary II, Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Kerala was the Speaker at the meeting. The topic of his address was “The Emerging Economic Opportunities in the post Covid Scenario.”
The President of the Chamber Mr. V Venugopal welcomed the participants to the virtual meeting.
Commencing his address, Mr. Hanish said that though Covid has turned out to be the biggest crisis of our time, Kerala can use the adverse situation to its advantage through some out-of-the-box strategies to attract investments and create jobs locally.
In India, the strangulation of business activities has caused industries to bear the brunt of rising operational costs in the face of reductions in orders. Against this backdrop, the Government and the business ecosystem stakeholders are working in a dynamic synergy to mitigate the socio-economic fallout and set the nation down the path to recuperation, he said.
Mr. Hanish said that every challenge brings an opportunity along with it and overcoming challenges is closely connected with utilising the opportunities that emerge alongside. The fact that amid all these challenges, the entire Government machinery and society as a whole – including voluntary organisations – have been in perfect sync makes the State stand out as a safe and secure destination for investments. In this backdrop, he said that the Government of Kerala has decided to grant all major industrial licenses and permits within one week of application, with the condition that entrepreneurs will complete due procedures within a year. Multi-modal Logistics Centres are sought to be established in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Kannur connecting the airport, port, railways and roads in these cities. Once this plan materialises, the State could emerge as a major player in international trade and commerce. Logistics parks are to be set up in different parts of the State to take advantage of the opportunities in export and import, he added.
Mr. Hanish further said that if there is one sector whose significance has been thrown into sharp relief by the incumbent crisis, it is the healthcare and biotech. While medical professionals and supporting staff are engaged on the front-lines battling the virus, researchers and scientists are occupied in an equally critical pursuit of developing a vaccine that will effectively put an end to the viral outbreak.
In the wake of the booming demand, tech players across sectors are rising to the occasion. Edtech is a key example, he said. Today, millions of educators and students are connecting online to continue with their learning activities. New-age players are closely following this development and continuously improvising to ensure seamless online engagement. This trend will not die down in the foreseeable future, he said.
Every business will now be technology-enabled. Rather, boundaries between business and technology will be blurred. People will travel less, consumer spending will come down. Mr. Hanish said that this is a huge advantage for Kerala if we can take advantage of the situation as most companies look to rationalise the costs. Working remotely and virtual working will be the norm, and that will be where the future of jobs lie. We will see remote working in healthcare, remote education, remote banking and finance, etc. he said.
Mr. Hanish said that agri-innovations, entrepreneurship, and technology need to be promoted to improve production and productivity post COVID-19. Moreover, precision farming methods will pave the way for optimising cost of production and productivity. The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector, which has been badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, is making an effort to promote agribusiness and agri-industrial sector.
Pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical supplies and equipment and related infrastructure for health sector capacity building, supply and value chain is a vital multi-sectoral cluster to create with all stakeholders — private and public. Consumer durables, construction materials, electronics, engineering goods, IT, speciality textiles and garments, AI and robotics are other promising areas, he said.
During this ‘Corona Shock’, Kerala has realised that it is imperative to think outside the box. Having an abundance of human resources, which will be further enriched with the influx of returned migrants, the State is relying on its strengths and going all out to woo investments so that jobs and incomes in whatever manner possible, are ensured to its people.
Concluding the meeting, Mr. Hanish said that if Kerala or even India sees a recovery of all those infected by the COVID-19, it can’t be said that we have successfully overcome the danger it poses; because till date, no specialised treatment protocol has been devised for COVID-19 and a vaccine is yet to be invented as well. Hence, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 anywhere in the world is a threat to the entire world as such. Therefore, what is required now is to be prepared with the ‘worst case scenario’ in mind. Based on the information we have till date, those countries or regions that have prepared for the most adverse situations are the ones that have been able to resist COVID-19 better than the rest. Even if the health emergency is mitigated, experts say that the economic fallout of this pandemic, across sectors, will linger for a few more years.
Following this, there was a brief discussion wherein the Speaker clarified the issues raised by the participants.
The meeting ended with the Vice President of the Chamber, Mr. K Harikumar thanking everyone for having participated in the meeting.