• Industry administrators, leaders and experts at the 7th Regional SME Summit, organised by CII Northern Region in Chandigarh on Tuesday, while hailing the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as the backbone of the Indian economy, especially so in Punjab, asserted that the MSME sector is essentially robust despite the challenges. It was felt that the sector needs a more enabling environment to raise its contribution further to the GDP and restore buoyancy in the economy.

The summit while acknowledging that funding is a crucial factor in realising the tremendous growth potential of MSMEs, concluded that they need to improve their governance in terms of   maintaining their books, balance sheets, bank statements, GST returns, etc to raise their credit worthiness and explore the largely untapped alternative means of funding, especially through the stock market route.

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

The industry leaders debunked the prevailing widespread negativism around the signs of slowing down of the economy, and asked MSMEs to have confidence in the resilience of the Indian economy, which will spur growth at a fast clip within a short time frame.      

Dwelling on the theme of the summit “Sustainable Development of Northern Region MSMEs”, Punjab Additional Chief Secretary Industry and Commerce Vini Mahajan while acknowledging that the MSME sector is the backbone of the country’s economy as a whole, and especially so in Punjab, promised the state government’s firm commitment to provide it an enabling ecosystem so that it could thrive and catalyse growth, thus creating greater employment opportunities.

She said that the international investors’ summit is being revived in the state after a gap of a few years and the one planned for December 5 and 6, the current government’s first, at the ISB campus in Mohali, will focus heavily on the MSME sector.

Conceding that there is still lack of absolute clarity in the Government of Indi regarding the definition of an MSME, which is creating hurdles in the smooth flow of concessions and incentives to them, she said the state government is constantly pursuing with the Centre to quickly settle this issue.

She sought the genuine feedback of the industry for a new revised policy for one time settlement of outstanding loans extended by the traditional state funding agencies like PFC and PSIDC so that it could be implemented effective and bring desired results. She also appealed to investors to take full advantage of the liberal state Industrial Policy and set up more private Industrial Parks. The state government is open to proposal for a public-private partnership as well, she added.

Pointing out that Punjab has been ranked second in the country after Gujarat in the ease of logistics, the state ACS Industries and Commerce reiterated the state government’s firm resolve to improve the infrastructure in its own existing industrial parks and focal points. “We are determined to improve the road and other infrastructure in these places at all cost,” she asserted.  

Vini Mahajan shared that creating more and more Common Facility Centres is another focus area of the state government, and so is ungrading the skill sets of manpower through modernisation in the teaching and training methodology at the polytechnics and ITIs in the state.

She also urged the MSMEs to participate in the recently launched Make In Punjab push, a policy for which gives preference to indigenous manufacturers in government procurements.

Rachna Dikshit, Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India, called upon bankers to not shy away from extending loans to the MSMEs after doing due diligence. She said the bank had undertaken capacity building exercises over the last two years under which 1300 bankers, especially those heading rural branches, had been sensitised to the issues involved.

Sanjay Khurana, Chairman, Regional Committee on SMEs, CII Northern Region, and Wholetime Director, Baddi Foils Pvt Ltd, was of the opinion that, considering the importance of the MSME sector in the Indian economy, it is essential that they are provided need-based support during times of delinquency, failure or other challenges.

Sharing the bankers’ perspective, Rajeev Arora, General Manager, State Bank of India, said the bankers expected transparency and commitment from the entrepreneurs to enable them to seamlessly process requests for loans. Though banks are constantly reviewing their processes and making things simpler for the borrowers, checks and balances are necessary to ensure that the funds are utilised judiciously and for the purpose these have been extended, he maintained.

Sushil Aggarwal, Co-Chairman of the Regional Committee on SMEs, CII Northern Region, and Chairman, Avon Moldplast Limited, urged MSMEs to believe in the resilience of the Indian economy and expressed confidence that buoyancy will soon return to the market. MSMEs are, and will, continue to remain the backbone of the Indian economy and they need to be extended adequate assistance by the government in various aspects of their operations, he asserted.

Making a mention of structural changes being made in the economy to bring about greater transparency in the systems, Aggarwal said the government has shown the right intent to remove the trust deficit, now it is for the industry to show positivity and the zeal and drive to overcome transitory challenges and help the economy grow faster.

Jyoti Prakash Gadia, another Co-Chairman of the Regional Committee on SMEs, CII Northern Region, and Managing Director, Resurgent India Pvt Ltd, felt that the MSMEs need to focus on keeping their books, balance sheets, GST returns and bank statements in order with an aim to improve their credit rating. Alternative fund sourcing from the equity market by listing on the major stock exchanges like BSE and NSE should also be explored since these have already benefitted several MSMEs, he added.

Rahul Priyadarshi, General Manager, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) Chandigarh while asserting that the MSME sector is robust, with a few stresses here and there, maintained that there is no dearth of funds with SIDBI. The bank has simplified its requirements and process for loans but due diligence has to be gone through, nonetheless. He suggested that industrial units in clusters with can approach the banks and other financial institutions for funding collective guarantees. These clusters can be got rated for ease of transaction, he added.

Royal Benjamin, Regional Head - SME and Startups  - North India, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) felt there is still widespread ignorance among the SMEs and startups regarding the tremendous potential of the alternative funding route for them through the stock markets. Separate platforms have been created for SMEs and startups in the BSE in the last few years and it is ready to reach out to the SMEs and accompany merchant bankers to access their credit worthiness, he said.

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