INTERNATIONAL DESK: Ahead of the upcoming Budget, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Sunday recommended introduction of an additional 1% corporate social responsibility (CSR) levy for a 12-month period to be used for providing ‘precautionary’ shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
The industry body also urged the State governments to lift restrictions on economic activity. It reasoned that the occupancy rate of hospital beds due to the Omicron variant of coronavirus was well within the manageable level.
The CII, in a statement, said it had written to the Chief Ministers to consider curbs at micro-containment zones only when hospitalisation rates crossed 75%.
“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,” T.V. Narendran, president, CII, said.
Mr. Narendran added that the CII had suggested to the government that an additional 1%, apart from the mandated 2%, be added to the CSR requirements in the Budget for a specified period of 12 months so that boosters can be made available to all age-groups.
“In fact, our recommendation has been that if companies spend on vaccines for their employees, their families and members of the community, then that expense can be set off against this additional CSR spend. Besides the government-provided boosters, the market mechanism should also be made to work for people who can afford to pay for their booster shots,” he added.
The CII president further stated that investments under the National Infrastructure Pipeline and the Gati Shakti programme must be fast-tracked, and that these activities would be dampened if curbs on economic activity were to continue.
The industry body suggested that social and economic activities should be considered separately. Social activities, in particular mass gatherings for any social, sports, entertainment and recreation purpose, should be restricted in general to curtail the spread of the Omicron variant.
The CII also requested for fast-tracking imports of all international-approved mRNA and protein-based vaccines at a price to be determined by the government.
“With bounceback in demand, the economy is expected to achieve a 9.2% growth rate over 2021-22. 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,” Mr. Narendran said.
As 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, he added. (The Hindu)