New Delhi, May 22: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday encouraged the MSMEs to make India ‘Atma Nirbhar' (self-reliant) in developing the defence technology and products while acknowledging that defence manufacturing has been adversely affected due to coronavirus pandemic. He also highlighted the measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ scheme.
Addressing via video conference MSMEs E-conclave, the Minister asserted that the MSMEs are the backbone of the Indian economy that accelerate GDP growth, earn valuable foreign exchange through exports and provide employment opportunities. He even said that helping the MSMEs strong is one of the priorities of the Government.
There are more than 8,000 MSMEs, tiered partners of many of its organisations like Ordnance factories, DPSUs and service organisations. They contribute more than 20 per cent of the total production of these organisations.
Batting for the 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat' initiative, he assured that it will provide many opportunities to Indian industry and will help in restoring millions of jobs. He stated, “Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has called for being 'vocal for local' in this direction.
Further, he added, "I would like to say that we have to have our indigenous products, ie 'vocal for local', but before that in our own life, 'local' has to be focal. That is, we have to adopt 'swadeshi' products in our life. There is no doubt that MSMEs have a very important role in the goal of indigenous manufacturing, and in the goal of self-reliant India."
The Minister highlighted few of the measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ scheme.
- Collateral free loan of 3 lakh crores for MSMEs - this will be effective in re-establishing about 45 lakh units and saving employment.
- Subordinate debt provision of Rs 20,000 crore has been announced for two lakh MSMEs, this will help stressed MSMEs.
- Equity infusion of Rs 50,000 crore will be provided through ‘Mother-Daughter Fund’ for the purpose of benefiting the needy MSMEs.
- A Rs 10,000 crore 'Fund of Funds' will be set up to help increase the capacity of these units and for marketing.
On the other hand, the Minister lauded the role played by Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the fight against coronavirus pandemic. He said, “I am very happy to know that SIDM has accelerated the manufacturing of DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation].
They had designed PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] kits, masks, ventilator parts in the field of defence industry by efficient coordination and channelisation. Within less than two months, the MoD has not only met our domestic demand, but it can also think of helping neighbouring countries in the coming time.
Defence Minister even admitted that the defence industry is facing hardships due to the pandemic. He stated that the manufacturing sector has been affected the most due to lockdown and disruption in existing supply chains and the defence sector is no exception to this. Rather, it can be said that the defence sector is more aggravated than other sectors as the only buyer of defence products is the government.
The SIDM has conducted many interactions with senior officials of the Ministry and the Armed Forces since the lockdown came into force. This has given an opportunity to get to know the problems of defence industries and many suggestions for their prevention have also been received from SIDM.
However, he highlighted the to tackle these challenges, MoD has taken several steps for industries, especially MSMEs such as - an extension of response dates of RFP/RFI, early clearance of pending payments, etc. In this crisis, several financial support measures have been announced by the Government and RBI to reduce the financial burden of the industries. These will provide some relief due to the availability of additional working capital, deferment in interest payments.
The definition of MSME has been revised so that MSMEs can be expanded. At the same time, there will be no distinction between manufacturing and services sector MSMEs. In government contracts (procurements) of value Rs 200 crores or less, global tenders will not be allowed which will help MSMEs to grow their business.
In the event of being unable to participate in trade fairs due to pandemic, e-market linkages will be ensured. He assured that the government and PSUs will also ensure the clearance of all outstanding payments in the next 45 days.
More than 800 Defence MSMEs participated in which the theme of the E-conclave was ‘Business Continuity for MSMEs in Defence & Aerospace Sector’.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was also present in the conclave. He cited the example of the United States where domestic defence industry developed within a short span of two years during the World War-II. He said India should have its own defence industry so he urged the MSMEs to work for placing India among the top ten nations in defence technologies.