India SME Forum, a non – governmental, non-political, non-trade union, not for profit organisation that works towards propelling small and medium businesses across the country, conducted a webinar on 11th May 2021 to discuss how MSMEs that were just about recovering from the first wave of the pandemic are now caught off guard by the second wave.
Speakers included, Prahlad Kakar, India SME Forum Chairman and Ad Guru, Vinod Kumar India SME Forum President, Dr. Aruna Sharma, IAS, Former Secretary to the Govt of India, Navneet Sehgal, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary – MSME, State Govt of UP, D. K. Singh, IAS, AS & DC, Ministry of MSME, Govt of India, Jayesh Ranjan, IAS Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT), Govt. of Telangana, and Pankaj Kumar Pandey, IAS, Principal Secretary, Mines, Textiles and Smallscale Industries, Govt. of Karnataka discussed the need to handhold MSMEs during such a difficult situation, as well as the importance of interaction between MSMEs and officials/ experts.
As different states have been implementing scattered lockdowns to break the chain of Covid-19 surge, MSMEs are seeking some relief. The association said, “A poll conducted with over 900 MSME members that attended the webinar from 12 states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu Rajasthan, Karnataka, West Bengal, etc. revealed that while 90% of them wanted a complete national lockdown, 86% of the attendees believed that home delivery of all products, essential or non-essential should be allowed during national, regional or local lockdowns as it allows MSMEs to continue their business and is also a contactless way for people to fulfil their requirements.”
Vinod Kumar, President India SME Forum stressed that, “India needs to have guidelines which will apply nationwide across states and regions for curbing movement of people and at the same time allowing uninterrupted & seamless movement of goods and materials whether for use in manufacturing supply chains or for sales to consumers. We should prioritise vaccination of all personnel in frontend logistics and delivery roles across India in order to ensure there are no shortages or black marketing while prioritizing the safety of human lives”
Dr. Aruna Sharma, IAS, Former Secretary to the Govt of India spoke about how, “MSMEs are currently facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The statewide partial lockdowns are also hampering their business. It is MSME that provides maximum employment opportunities. Therefore this is time for the government to handhold growth and the interests of MSMEs . This is an opportunity to have policies to incentivise them to board online sale platforms to spread and explore new markets. Today policies are more tilted towards the traditional way of doing business with an added burden of 2% additional tax if they board for e- commerce. There are some other discrepancies. The new market for MSMEs is for both B2B and B2C to be accelerated through these platforms as the new normal.“
DK Singh, IAS – AS & DC, Ministry of MSME, Government of India highlighted that, “There’s no clear-cut demarcation between essential and non-essential goods, something that is non-essential today can become essential tomorrow, this makes the definition very artificial in nature. We are currently going through times where everybody is trying to respond in the best possible way, ecommerce has not only enabled digitization but also encouraged manufacturers to adopt the same. If we focus on the development of micro-enterprises, livelihood and employment will automatically improve which will eventually help the economy at large.”