This is the time that all stakeholders, we should encourage people, encourage industry, create confidence in their mind for the future:

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Nitin Gadkari: Minister of MSMEs and Road & Transport   

The corona war is continuing but now we are in position that we need to understand how to fight with corona and at the same time we have to start our daily life. This is the way in which we are trying to find out our way out.

What has been the impact of COVID on the MSME sector?

We understand the problems MSMEs are facing, what type of help they need, what type of defer payment and in which sector they need, at the same time what is the problem with the working capital. There is also a big problem, the MSME what they supply to state government undertaking, central government undertaking and major industries, they are not getting their payments and that is one of the crucial issues in MSME. So, we need to find out some way out on that. When I discuss this with FICCI, CII, I request all the major industries that you do one thing, whatever the small payments of the small people, the MSME people, please issue the main thing. We are also trying to make some scheme for that, wherein we can create some fund and give guarantee to the banks and whether that fund can be used as a rolling fund for that, that is also one of the schemes we are thinking and we are trying for that. We are now talking with the finance ministry, talking with the public undertaking ministry, we are talking with the state chief ministers that we need some mechanism that how the MSME will get their payment within a month because in some case for more than 3 months the payment is delayed and that is one of the reason that MSMEs are facing the problem.

Huge challenge for the Govt. as every businesses

Presently we are facing very critical problem. The Indian industry is facing the problem, but it is not only India, the whole world economy is facing the problem. Government is with the business and the industry. Regarding MSME, they are also facing the problem. So, first of all government has already taken some decisions that up to March end the banks have already restructured 6 lakh MSMEs and we are giving permission to them up to December 31. We are expecting that they can complete the restructuring of up to 25 lakh MSMEs. At the same time 3 months deferred payment is there and additional working capital of 20 percent is also sanctioned and that can be again really a strength for MSME. The corona war is continuing but now we are in position that we need to understand how to fight with corona and at the same time we have to start our daily life. This is the way in which we are trying to find out our way out.

Now the national highway road construction we have already started, 65-70 percent traffic is on the road and at the same time export, import has started, banking operations are going on and now we are trying to start small scale industries work also. In many green areas it has already started and in some of the area by taking preventive measures and guidelines given by the government, now we are giving the permission to start it. I am confident that it is a problem but it is a blessing in disguise also. As far as the reaction from the western world particularly the reaction of European countries, USA and reaction from the Prime Minister of Japan, that whatever the investment and industry of the Japanese people in China, the Japan government has declared a special package and that is the reason that those who are ready to come out of China, the Japanese government is giving them the package. So, this is an opportunity. China is in a position to be a very sound in the economy in the world and now because there is hatred about China, it is an opportunity for Indian economy, Indian industry and Indian entrepreneurs to take advantage of it and we will definitely take advantage of it and we should be positive about it.

Government is with all businessmen, all industry and at the same time with all MSMEs. Already I have had interaction with different type of people by video conferencing and we have received lot of good suggestions and we have already forwarded all suggestions to finance ministry and Prime Minister’s office. I am confident that in due course of time, presently I am in Nagpur but definitely the government is seriously working on all these proposals and whatever is possible for the government, government will do it.

How critical will be the labor issue for all industries – MSMEs as well as large industries?

Yes there is lot of labor migration from one city to another city, one state to another state, it is really a crucial issue. We are facing this problem in national highway. All the toll operators and other people I suggested them to take all the preventive measures that you can make for them – food, shelter, water, everything. It is really a big problem, thousands of people are going back to their home but at the same time the most important thing in the solution is to start small scale industry, to start industries, start the government contract work under the guideline of government for protecting the people from corona virus that is very important. Now it is the time for the country, we need to understand, we need to train that corona is there, lock-down is there and we need to take the industry, business and run that. So, we need to make more than 1-meter distance – social distance between two people, use of masks mandatory everywhere out of house or whenever you are moving on the road. Third important thing is using sanitizer. So, these are important that things that we need to take the preventive measure and industry should take the preventive measure of food and shelter and ensure that it is not going to create the spreading of the corona. So, after taking these preventive measures we need to understand how we can survive in this time and this is where we have to find a way out for both the things. This is not a contradiction but we need to understand this and we have to go ahead. The district collectors are now giving a lot of permissions, I am expecting positively that the future time period we will be out of this problem and we will resolve it and we will go ahead.

Many businesses are planning to shift out of China, how India can make use of this opportunity, and why they prefer more South East Asia?

We have economic corridors, from NHAI now we are planning to move to make industrial clusters, logistic parks which are connected to ports, airports and railway stations. I will give you the example of Mumbai-Delhi Express Highway. This new express highway 12 lane cement concrete road is going to reduce the distance between Mumbai to Delhi by 220 kilometres. The most important thing is the land acquisition cost is coming to Rs 10-15 lakh per acre. There is centralization of industry into Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore, so this is the time that 115 aspirant districts, the rural agriculture tribal areas where we can make some forest based raw material available, so I am confident that we have appointed a special joint secretary and he will make the coordination with the state governments and all foreign companies which want to invest in India they will get all type of clearances within 3 months and they will get red carpet treatment, transparency, time bound decision making process, corruption free system and at the same time it is a friendly for development and investment. There are lot of concessions already available for different type of industries, we will give the same concessions also for foreign investment also. So, we are thinking that which are the major concessions which we can offer to foreign investment in the country.

Already we have increased the limits, in infrastructure 100 percent foreign investment is possible, there is no problem, so for majority industry already government is taking lot of decisions and I am confident that this is the time because the whole world has got lot of hatred for Chinese. So, as they want to shift from China, the most available place where the skilled manpower is available and where ports are available, infrastructure is available, water, power, transport and communication is available, so most ideal place after China is India and that is the reason behind my argument.

When I have interaction by video conference, in one of the program, I interacted with 6000 scholars from 15 universities from around the world, even they are giving me the feedback that there is a mind change now and majority investors, particularly the good industries which are having good rating, they are now keenly interested to establish their establishment in India. So, after all it is depending upon our approach also. Government is very friendly, we are developing good infrastructure – water, power, transport and communication four important things which are very important for industry and now they are available in India. Our ports are good, efficiency has increased, from export import point of view it is also an ideal place and I am confident that we will get the advantage of all these situations. So, we should be positive, we should think positive with full confidence. This is the time that all stakeholders, we should encourage people, encourage industry, create confidence in their mind for the future.