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Goa Govt Imposes ESMA on Pharma Sector to Avert Strikes

Written by : Jayati Dubey

October 12, 2023

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By invoking ESMA, the government aims to guarantee the continuous availability of essential medicines and healthcare services while preventing political and union-related interference in the manufacturing sector, as articulated by industry bodies.

In a pre-emptive move to safeguard the pharmaceutical sector from possible strikes, the state government of Goa has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). This decision aims to ensure the continuous manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and transportation of pharmaceutical products and components, recognising their vital role in public health.

The imposition of ESMA in Goa will be in effect for six months.

In 1968, the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) came into existence with the primary purpose of preserving the 'normal functioning of vital services and community life.' ESMA outlines a comprehensive roster of these 'essential services' and explicitly forbids employees in these sectors from engaging in strikes.

An official statement issued by the Under Secretary (Home I) noted, "The Government of Goa, in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Goa Essential Services Maintenance Act 1988 and being satisfied that, in the public interest, it is necessary to do so, hereby prohibits strikes in any form in all establishments engaged in manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and transportation of pharmaceutical products and components thereof in the pharmaceutical sector in the State of Goa with immediate effect."

Dr Praveen Khullar, president of the Goa Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association (GPMA), welcomed the government's decision, emphasising the importance of ensuring pharmaceutical production during challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed the noble profession of manufacturing medicines that serve the public and urged people to recognise its benefits for patients.

The pharmaceutical sector in Goa significantly contributes to employment, foreign exchange, and pharmaceutical production, accounting for more than 12% of the country's total output.

Previously, the GPMA had approached the state government to address union-related activities that were impacting pharmaceutical manufacturing units negatively. This move was supported by the Goa Small Industries Association and the Verna Industries Association.

By invoking ESMA, the government aims to guarantee the continuous availability of essential medicines and healthcare services while preventing political and union-related interference in the manufacturing sector, as articulated by industry bodies. The decision underscores the critical role of the pharmaceutical sector in public health and its contribution to the state's economy.


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