London: The High Commission of India in the UK, in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), yesterday, organised a Virtual Roundtable on ‘COVID19 – Issues, Challenges & Way forward’ for Indian Businesses in the UK.
The roundtable was aimed at giving a comprehensive overview of various stimulus measures announced by the UK government. It also took stock of the issues and challenges being faced by the businesses. The roundtable was attended by over 40 Indian business representatives across sectors like Financial Services, Hospitality, Healthcare, IT & IT Services, Trading, and business services.
Ms Ruchi Ghanashyam, High Commissioner of India to the UK said, “The Government of India and the High Commission of India are constantly working with businesses and business organisations with regard to the Government’s response to COVID19.” She also expressed her gratitude to the UK Government for extending the visas for all those who are currently unable to return home due to travel restrictions in place in the wake of COVID-19.
A senior representative of the High Commission briefed the participants about the issues around visa extension and some of the challenges faced by those stranded in the UK and the measures taken by the HCI to assist in addressing these.
Lord Jitesh Gadhia highlighted the various stimulus packages announced by the UK Government. Amongst other points, he elaborated on key measures like Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL), furlough scheme, support for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) as well as provisions for rent relief, etc. He stressed that going forward the businesses will have to prepare for a reopening strategy that would be graduated, phased, and respaced.
Lord Karan Bilimoria stressed on the requirement of a public-private partnership for devising a scheme for tech companies and Start-ups to help them navigate the pandemic. “Businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, but if we can line up the capacities of hospitals, testing, drug trials and, in due course, develop a vaccine, once the rate of COVID-19 infections, hospital admissions and deaths are on a consistent and confirmed downward direction, we can start to open up the economy in a phased manner”, he added.
Baroness Usha Prashar, Chairman, FICCI UK Council said, “The roundtable was very informative and constructive. Response of the Government, initiatives by businesses and communities were appreciated by all present. There is going to be a prolonged period of uncertainty and disruption and ‘new normal’ will be very different. While response to immediate issue is crucial so is thinking about the future adjustments that businesses will have to make. Planning for the future, particularly in areas such as increasing role of technology, people skills and well-being are some of the key areas. “FICCI will continue to support its members in whatever way possible and draw the issues raised at this roundtable to the attention of relevant UK Government Departments,” she added.