Union Minister for MSME and Road Transport and Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari informed that Ministry is working on bringing out a Agro MSME Policy which will focus on entrepreneurship development in rural, tribal, agricultural and forest areas for manufacturing products using local raw material.
He was speaking during meetings held via video conferencing with the representatives of SME Chamber of India, SME Export Promotion Council and representatives of beauty and wellness industry on impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs.
Shri Gadkari called upon the industry that it is needed to be ensured by industries that necessary preventive measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He emphasized on the usage of PPE (Masks, sanitizer etc.) and advised to maintain social distancing norms during business operations.
The Union Minister mentioned that there is need to focus on export enhancement as well as import substitution to replace foreign imports with domestic production.
He added that industry should focus more on innovation, entrepreneurship, science and technology, research skill and experiences to convert the knowledge into wealth.
The Minister recalled that Government of Japan has offered special package to its industries for taking out Japanese investments from China and move elsewhere. He opined that it is an opportunity for India which should be grabbed.
He further emphasized that work on new alignment of Delhi-Mumbai Green Express Highway has already started, and this is an opportunity for industry to make future investments in industrial clusters, logistics parks equipped with state-of-art technology. He opined that there is a need to expand the horizon of industrial cluster in areas other than metro cities and urged industries for participation.
Shri Gadkari suggested to the wellness and beauty industry to encourage use of Indian Ayurvedic products instead of imported products. The Minister informed that Ministry of MSME has signed an MoU with AYUSH Ministry to promote the AYUSH sector through various schemes of Ministry of MSMEs in the areas of training, skilling, handholding and entrepreneurship development. He also advised that members of wellness and beauty industry should register under MSME so that they could benefit from various schemes of the Ministry of MSME.
During interactions, the representatives expressed concerns regarding various challenges being faced by various MSMEs amid COVID-19 pandemic along with few suggestions and requested support from the government to keep the sector afloat.
Some of the major issues highlighted and the suggestions given included: further extension of moratorium, payment of salaries to workers during lockdown from their ESI and Provident Fund, helpline for MSMEs, strengthening access to finance etc.
Shri Gadkari responded to the questions from representatives and assured all possible help from the government. He informed that he would take up the issues with related departments. He mentioned said that all stakeholders must adopt an integrated approach to come over the crisis and urged the industry to have a positive attitude during this time to tide over this crisis.