While piecemeal anecdotes and surveys have already exposed the devastation that PM Modi’s demonetization plan has had on the Indian economy, tonight we see the first hard evidence as Foxconn has asked 25% of its workforce to leave after the cash ban caused sales to collapse by 50% forcing the company to slash production by half.
Amid social unrest and loss of faith in the nation’s currency, India’s economy has ground to a halt with its Composite PMI crashing by a record in the last month as demonetization strikes.
And now, as The Economic Times reports, the government’s move to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from November 9 has had a domino effect on the mobile phone industry, where a large majority of mobile phones are bought for less than Rs 5,000 and most of the transactions happen through cash.
Consumer purchase power has been reduced dramatically– mobile phone monthly sales halved to Rs 175-200 crore post demonetisation – and sales revival is not looking up, as was perceived earlier, industry insiders said.
Leading local players including Intex, Lava and Karbonn are planning to lay off or bench 10-40% of their workforce, as they cut production to control inventory pile-ups in retail channels with consumers delaying cash purchases after Nov 8 demonetisation sucked out cash from the market.
Lava is shutting down its plant – which employs around 5000 people -for a week starting December 12, while others could soon follow, industry insiders said.
Foxconn – which makes devices for China’s Xiaomi, Oppo and Gionee, besides Infocus and Nokia – along with Lava, Intex, Karbonn and Micromax account for around 50% of the handsets assembled in India, say experts.
“The four plants in Sri City (Andhra Pradesh) are operating at 1.2 million capacity a month, down from 2.5 million that it has,” a senior industry executive aware of Foxconn’s manufacturing details said, asking not to be named. The company has put about 1,700 of its workforce on the bench, or on forced leave for two weeks during which they will get paid but the number of days would be cut from their earned leaves. Benching may continue if production – directly related to consumer demand – does not come to the 2 million a month levels by January, the person added.
Will the workers come back? Will production come back? Well as we noted previously, Modi’s move has shaken faith in the foundations
A final philosophical point. Our entire monetary system depends on trust. A banknote is a piece of paper that says the RBI will give the bearer another similar piece of paper, or make an entry in an electronic ledger for that amount. The system works because everybody believes that those pieces of paper will be accepted by everybody else and therefore, money serves as an useful medium of exchange. This move has shaken that trust.