New Delhi: Industry body CII has suggested the government include an additional 1 per cent corporate social responsibility levy apart from the mandatory 2 per cent for one year in the upcoming Budget to encourage corporates to spend on providing Covid vaccine booster shots.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has also urged state governments to lift the pandemic-induced restrictions on economic activity, arguing that the occupancy rate of hospital beds due to the Omicron variant of Covid is well within the manageable level.
“CII suggests that 1 per cent of mandated CSR funds be earmarked for vaccination. We also recommend that an additional 1 per cent be added to CSR requirements in the Budget, for a specified period of 12 months, so that boosters can be made available to all age-groups,” CII President T V Narendran said.
The chamber said it expects Budget 2022-23 to focus on measures for strengthening economic recovery. CII requested that the government should encourage industry to deploy CSR funding towards providing precautionary shots to the community. Further, the industry is ready to contribute an additional 1 per cent under the CSR norms to the national vaccination mission, apart from the mandated 2 per cent, and this can be part of the Budget for a period of 12 months only, suggested CII.
“Hospitalisation rates in the present wave stand at manageable levels and therefore, industry feels that Covid-related restrictions can be removed to enable the robust recovery process to continue,” it stated.
In line with the Prime Minister’s guidance to state governments to undertake restrictions where required at a localised level, CII has written to state chief ministers to consider curbs at micro containment zones only when hospitalization rates are over 75 per cent, Narendran shared.
With a lower level of hospitalisations seen in the Omicron variant, it is possible to maintain normal economic activities and protect lives and livelihoods, he added. The CII President emphasised that the investments under National Infrastructure Pipeline and Gati Shakti programme must be fast-tracked and it is expected that the Budget would provide for this.
CII has also written to state chief ministers with suggestions regarding the level of curbs on markets and factories. The industry body pitched that containment at micro zones should be considered only when available hospital beds are 75 per cent occupied. Normal economic activities should continue until this level is breached in a micro zone and anyway should be permitted in the rest of the district.
Even in micro containment zones, it said, all factories may be allowed to function under certain conditions of hygiene and safety. There should be no distinction between essential and non-essential goods and services. All shops may be permitted to open without restrictions on timing to avoid crowding at certain times.
However, crowd control is essential to enable social distancing, stressed CII. It has also requested fast-tracking of imports of all internationally approved mRNA and protein based vaccines at a price to be determined by the Government. This would open up booster shots to all sections of society.
With bounce back in demand, the economy is expected to achieve 9.2 per cent growth rate over 2021-22, it added. “However, this pace must continue for full recovery and faster growth in the medium term and to ensure that workers and small enterprises do not suffer. While vaccinations have helped in dampening the impact of Omicron on the lives of people, the present conditions are conducive to opening up the economy completely while keeping large social gatherings to a minimum,” noted Narendran.