Centre plans to set up technology centres for MSMEs

Elbert Grims

In order to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Union Government has proposed to set up 153 technology centres to address issues relating to business, HR and modern strategies, and use of artificial intelligence.

Technology is the key driver in the new normal and the government has already set up 18 such centres and 15 are ongoing, said Sudhir Garg, Joint Secretary of Ministry of MSME.

He was speaking at the CII Kerala’s MSME Finance Facilitation Drive (during October 19-24), which includes a virtual exhibition and conference.

More incubation centres are being set up in rural areas to rope in start-ups and promote use of technology. He also highlighted the champion portal where small and medium-sized enterprises can get help in terms of finance, raw material, labour, permissions, etc.

Making credit process easy

CS Setty, Managing Director, State Bank of India, said MSMEs should give importance to proper book keeping, credit discipline and good governance framework, which will make the credit process easy. He suggested that banks develop a good relationship with NBFCs towards evolving a co-lending model. Specialised MSME branches should be developed in collaboration with the governments.

The biggest challenge faced by the majority of small players during this Covid crisis is restarting the business. Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line has been a lifeline for MSMEs. In Kerala, SBI has distributed ₹1,100 crore to 24,000 MSMEs. Financial institutions should create products and services suitable for the requirements of small business, he said.

Financial literacy

K Ellangovan, Principal Secretary-Industries, Kerala, stated that Kerala MSMEs had received only ₹4,500 crore out of the ₹9,800 crore under Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme. The main reason is that a majority of the MSMEs have a history of unpaid loans.

Stressing the need for financial literacy among MSMEs, he sought the support of CII to create general awareness. He also urged venture capital portfolio managers to go beyond the traditional markets.

According to Thomas John Muthoot, Chairman, CII Kerala State Council, the MSME sector is facing a plethora of problems, including severe disruption in cash flows, lack of adequate working capital for wage, bill payments and inventory management and delayed payments, among others. Quoting a recent survey, he said nearly 50 per cent of MSMEs have witnessed a 20-50 per cent impact on their earnings.

Shalini Warrier, Co–convenor, CII Kerala BFSI Panel, said that Kerala has the 12th largest number of MSMEs in India — around 23.79 lakh units of which 23.58 lakh are micro-enterprises, generating employment for approximately 44.64 lakh people. The three primary factors essential for growth in the MSME sector are credit availability, connectivity and power.

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