After decades of neglect and struggle, it could now be the light at the end of the tunnel for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In what could be a major paradigm shift in considering issues pertaining to MSMEs, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has constituted an 11-member high-level task force for the sector which will be headed by T. K. A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.
The decision came weeks after a 19-member MSME delegation approached the Prime Minister to look into various problems they have been facing, particularly due to global economic slowdown.
The fact that the PM has shown interest in taking up the issues of the MSME sector, can actually help in the development of the sector as a key driver for the economy. The first task before the MSME task force now would be to come out with a comprehensive set of policies to speed up the growth of the sector. The focus should be on issues like credit availability, marketing, and training and skill development. This high-powered task force will also have to decide how to further move ahead to provide relief and support to the sector.
What hit me as a positive was the urgency shown by the Prime Minister. Setting a time-frame - of three months - for this 11-member task force to draw up an agenda for action goes to show that the Prime Minister wants action. In the wake of the global economic slowdown, the suggestions that the task force will come up with to help MSMEs tide over the problems will indeed be awaited with great interest from all quarters.
With the industry demanding that the minimum period for Non-Performing Assets (NPA) for the MSME sector be extended from 90 days to 180 days and the exemption limit, under the General Excise Exemption Scheme, be raised from Rs 1.50 crore to Rs 3 crore will hopefully be taken into consideration too.
It seems help is not far away now!