MSMEs making essential goods should not face any hindrance amid lockdown, govt tells states

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Updated: Apr 13, 2020 2:50 PM

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Apart from allowing trucks, the home secretary also asked chief secretaries to ensure passes are issued by railways, airports, seaports, and customs authorities to their staff and contractual labour.

economic relief package, fiscal measures, industries, businesses, coronavirus, covid 19The government had announced measures to ensure movement of goods is not restricted amid lockdown.

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Monday asked chief secretaries of all the states to ensure MSMEs manufacturing essential items across the country operate without any challenges amid Covid-19 lockdown. In a letter sent to all chief secretaries, Bhalla said all district authorities and field agencies should be informed about the government’s guidelines on inter and intrastate movement of personnel and trucks carrying essential or non-essential goods. “MSMEs engaged in the manufacture of essential items like wheat flour, pulses, and edible oils should be allowed to function freely, without any hindrances,” he said in the letter seen by Financial Express Online.

The clarification followed complaints to the Ministry of Home Affairs with respect to trucks carrying essential and non-essential being detained by police and passes not being issued to workers engaged in manufacturing of such goods, the letter noted. MSMEs in the edible oil sector, for instance, is facing a labour shortage amid the outbreak. “There are issues in terms of labour availability in the plants. The market has still not reached its pre-Corona 100 per cent production level. It is operating at about 50-60 per cent production level currently as this is largely a function of sufficient labour not being available,” Atul Chaturvedi, President, The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India told Financial Express Online. The association is the apex body for the edible oil industry in India.

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Bhalla reiterated the ministry’s measures in the 8-point letter for their strict observance at all cost. Apart from allowing trucks with one driver and cleaner to move inter and intrastate with valid documents, the home secretary also asked chief secretaries to ensure passes are issued by railways, airports, seaports, and customs authorities to their staff and contractual labour. “It will be a long haul for things to come back to normal,” said Chaturvedi.

Such restrictions “have the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities,” said Bhalla. This comes days after DPIIT secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra wrote to Bhalla to allow the industrial activity to restart in certain sectors including MSMEs with reasonable safeguards amid lockdown to boost economic activity. “Those companies/MSMEs with export commitments need to be allowed to operate with minimal manpower and necessary movement of material as a new entity,” Mohapatra said in the letter.

MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari last week taking stock of measures for MSMEs and steps to be taken ahead said that Covid-19 has dealt a “huge blow” to the sector, PTI cited. The ministry had recently urged MSMEs in manufacturing or supply of medical and related equipment to register as a supplier on the government’s e-commerce portal GeM as the government looks to engage India’s vast MSME sector in the fight against the pandemic.

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