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CII sets up MSME Covid-19 fund

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) announced CII COVID Rehabilitation and Relief Fund (CRR) to assist small enterprises or MSMEs in rehabilitation. The industry body took the decision in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

   CII suggested specific measures to curtail the impact of Coronavirus on the MSME sector. “Multiple actions need to be taken on extension of bank loans, a special fund, steps regarding filing of GST and improving welfare of workers. CII stands ready to support MSME sector in this hour of need through the CII COVID Rehabilitation and Relief Fund,” said Shreekant Somany, chairman, CII National Council on MSME.

   With MSME facing a cash crunch, CII requested for additional ad-hoc sanction of working capital to the tune of 25 per cent of sanctioned limit as a relief measure. The industry body suggested deferment of EMIs and interest rate on working capital as well. Setting up of a special MSME Factoring fund to enable MSMEs to discount their bills to approved retailers in 15 days and permit retailers to pay in 120 days would help in faster realization, said CII.

   Creation of a corpus by the government to help MSMEs tide over the crisis would help them to pay wages, according to CII. Extension of NPA norms in genuine cases to 150 days from the present 90 days and if required by industry, ad-hoc limits to an extent of 25 per cent of sanctioned limits may be allowed by banks on SOS basis to overcome temporary liquidity crunch, would also provide temporary relief, said CII.

  Measures for improving welfare of the MSME workers during the temporary shutdown period are required as well, said CII. Some of these could include supporting laid off workers during the crisis period, handling the statutory compliance of compensating workers in case of shutdown and exploring insurance cover options through the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), 90 days extension for payment of employer’s contribution of PF and ESIS, insurance cover or part financing wages for those laid off due to coronavirus through ESIC or new government schemes, allowing of  CSR funds to support payment of wages to laid off  workers,  among others.

  Other measures such as extension of period for declaring NPAs by MSMEs, allowing rollover of terms loans and implementation of moratorium on EMIs for industrial loans and faster tax refunds, allowing banks to extend credit limit for MSMEs by 20 per cent at branch level, among others could significantly ease liquidity and other pressures on the sector and help the sector cope with the current crisis, said CII.

  It has been further proposed by CII that the government should draw up contingency plans for three periods till March 31 for next two months till May 31 and then for next two months till July 31. There should be close monitoring of payment delays by CPSUs to MSMEs through a portal for complaints and necessary funds are provided and utilized for this purpose should be ensured.

  Banks should be allowed to extend existing credit limits for MSMEs by 20 per cent at branch level. Relief should be provided so that credit rating of  brands and retailers is not adversely affected due to delays in repayment of bank loans, interest, EMI, etc., together with ensuring that no punitive action is taken by NCLT for delays of repayments etc. till December 31st 2020, added CII.

 CII has 67 per cent of its membership as SME and works closely with the ministry of MSME. CII organized a special virtual meeting for its SME members on assessing the impact of COVID-19 in their businesses and also bring out suggestions to mitigate the adverse impact. Over 100 MSME members from across India participated representing sectors of auto components, light engineering, forging, electronics, ceramics, construction equipment, décor solutions, financial services, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, IT & ITeS, etc.

   The MSME sector is one of the most severely affected sectors, amidst the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Many steps to curtail the outbreak such as travel bans, closure of malls, theatres and educational institutions have led to widespread disruptions in economic activity, which in turn has hampered the business operations of the MSMEs.

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