India is home to approximately 6.3 crore MSMEs which forms the backbone of the economy and the second wave of COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted this community also. Unlike during the first wave, the current situation is dire as there is higher loss of lives across the country. In a time like this, we request the central and state governments to announce guidelines that will help sustain the livelihood of MSMEs and lives of the fellow countrymen.
- Home delivery of products during the lockdown hours: In order to help citizens maintain social distancing norms and yet have access to the products they require, all forms of retail can function only by enabling home delivery of products.
- No artificial distinction of essential vs non-essentials: To promote MSMEs right to eke out living, they will be allowed to sell all products by home delivery only. This measure will help in ensuring jobs and continuity of economic activities. One of the officials of Ministry of MSME has also echoed similar views who was quoted saying: “The distinction between essential and non-essential goods and services sold online could be revisited with focus on the safe delivery to provide a wider online marketplace to MSMEs”.
- Movement of goods: There shall be no restriction of intra state or inter-state movement of goods. No separate permission/e-passes is required for such movements.
- Facilitating ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for small sellers: Making it easier for small businesses to be online, by reducing compliance (GST) burdens and registration norms, would go a long way in enabling Digitisation of MSMEs. The regulatory framework should focus on enabling parity between offline and online sellers, encouraging small sellers to join the Digital economy and pursue growth.
- Prioritise vaccination for MSMEs / Home delivery personnel: State Governments should treat e-commerce delivery personnel as frontline workers and accord priority vaccinations for them. Given the responsibility they carry, priortising vaccination for e-commerce workers will also go a big way in protecting their livelihood and the health of their families.
- Protection against vandalism / police action: Policing and other authorities must advised not to inconvenience the home delivery personnel or the employees working with e-commerce/MSMEs organizations.
Speaking on this, Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, FISME said, “The current situation, exacerbated by the pandemic has allowed MSMEs to digitize rapidly and provided them a means to create a livelihood. However, certain regulatory impediments have got in the way of this progress and it is essential to overcome these in order for MSMEs to continue to create employment and boost the economy. Allowing the delivery of all products during lockdowns, removing regulatory hurdles to achieve this, enabling the ease of doing business and prioritising vaccination for delivery personnel are some of the ways in which authorities can provide an impetus to MSMEs.”
He also added, “States must desist from making arbitrary changes to lockdown guidelines and must give a steady policy for a 3 week period duration. This helps in MSMEs manage their working capital and sustain their businesses. Any form of discontinuity or restriction of their businesses can lead to wiping out their existence itself.”