Considering the present-day scenario and role of MSMEs in the fight with COVID-19, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) held a video conference with the senior officers of the Ministry to review the state of preparedness of the Government machinery in the light of the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. Minister of State for MSME Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Panda, Chairman KVIC Shri V.K. Saxena, SS&DC Shri Ram Mohan Mishra and other officers of the Ministry along with various field offices across the country were connected. In a structured discussion of over two and half hours, the Minister took stock of the steps taken in the background of the pandemic that has dealt a huge blow on the sector. The measures announced by the Ministry of Finance and RBI so far were also discussed along with the action taken by Ministry of MSME to minimize the impact of COVID19 on MSME Sector.
The Minister stated that the country needs to brace for a dual war, one against COVID and the other on the economy front. While praising the efforts made by the officers and field formations of the Ministry, he emphasized that all prescribed precautions on sanitization, social distancing and PPE have to be invariably followed. He mentioned that due to COVID19, the demand of medical items like Ventilator, PPE kits, mask and sanitizer have increased suddenly over last one month and MSME is playing an important role in filling the gap by increasing the production of these items. He said MSMEs engaged in these activities should be facilitated on priority. He noted that the Ministry could register highest ever utilization of funds in absolute terms during 2019-20 under various schemes of the Ministry. He also reviewed the measures taken by other organization of the Ministry such as Khadi and Village Industries (KVIC), National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), Coir Board, Technology Centres (TCs) and Development Institutes.
The Minister was informed that all organizations of the Ministry were involved in distribution of food packets at various places in the country despite the lock down. KVIC has decided to release of Rs. 1000 per month to each registered artisan from the Artisan Welfare Fund (AWF) Trust. Moreover, khadi institutions have been directed to release AWF contribution into the bank accounts of artisans in three instalments. The Coir Board and industry reported a contribution of Rs. 8 lakh towards PM cares relief fund. NSIC reported concessions like moratorium of 03 months for repayment of outstanding dues for eligible MSMEs who have availed RMA against BG prior to 01/03/2020, Continuity in validity of SPRS enlistment certificates expiring between 01/03/2020 to 30/06/2020, Extension of 50% discount offer on Annual membership in MSME mart etc. NSIC also stated that it had contributed Rs. 100 lakhs to PM CARE fund from its CSR fund and additionally Rs. 15 lakhs from one day salary of NSIC employees was also contributed to the fund.
It was reported on behalf of the MSME Technology Centres (TCs) that they were engaged in the manufacturing of sanitizers, masks, gowns, face shields and hospital furniture. The TCs affirmed their commitment for ramping up their in house manufacturing and also assisting the MSMEs in the manufacture of these items. The Minister stressed that this has to be done very quickly because of the bulk requirements of these items. The Minister desired that the TCs should collaborate with experts and agencies with proven and approved technology for manufacture of ventilators and corona testing kits and get into mass production in compliance with the medical standards. He appreciated the fact that the TCs had opened their facilities for use as shelters for labour, hostels for police and even as isolation centres. The TCs despite the lean permanent staff structure under which they operate have also contributed Rs 22 Lakh one day Salary for the PM Cares fund.
Finally, the Minister urged the officials to go all out for the assistance for MSMEs by revising and upscaling the schemes after proper third party independent evaluation. He urged his officers to get in touch with all stakeholders for a coordinated relief for MSMEs.