Indian industry welcomes UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak's coronavirus action plan

04:16 PM Mar 19, 2020 | PTI |
London: The Indian industry in the UK has welcomed the unprecedented rescue package unveiled by Britain's Indian-origin Finance Minister Rishi Sunak to help businesses in Britain combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Sunak on Tuesday announced a whopping 330-billion pounds worth of rescue measures in the House of Commons, including easier to access loan facilities, liquidity assistance for businesses through the ongoing crisis period and a 12-month business rate holiday for the retail and hospitality sector. This unprecedented support package is very welcome. The Chancellor has extended a third of a trillion pounds in grants, guarantees, corporate paper, and unlimited loans, showing the considerable flexibility the state has to act in times of crisis, said Jim Bligh, Chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) UK India Business Forum This shock will hit all sectors of the economy and businesses of all sizes, so the Treasury must continue to show flexibility as government, citizens and businesses rise together to defeat the challenge of coronavirus, he said. Bligh also called on Indian businesses operating in the UK, estimated at around 842 based on the CII/Grant Thornton India Meets Britain Tracker', to closely follow the government guidance and work together with their trade bodies in the months ahead. "Coronavirus is the challenge of our working lives. Businesses will play their part in defeating it," he added. The 330-billion pounds in loans, equivalent to 15 percent of the UK's GDP, unveiled by Sunak is designed to help businesses pay for supplies, rent and salaries as the country went into near-lockdown to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has claimed 71 lives in the UK. "We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one," Sunak said, as he presented the package alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street in London ahead of his Commons statement on Tuesday. "We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy," said Johnson. The City of London, the heart of London's financial district, has warned that the pandemic could have a crippling effect on the area's many cafes and restaurants. With a very small residential population and with more companies allowing staff to work from home or closing their offices entirely, the impact of the current outbreak on City retail and leisure businesses could be devastating, said Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation. The fundamental strengths of London will help us to recover and rebuild, as we have done before. London will always be one of the world's leading financial centers, a city of global talent with a highly-skilled workforce and more international HQs than any other European city, she added in a joint statement with Lord Mayor of City of London William Russell.

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