Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) provide huge employment in rural and semi-urban areas and also act as a mechanism for distributing wealth. They come next only to agriculture in providing employment, according to Dinsha J. Patel, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

He was at Periavallikulam near here on Sunday to inaugurate the safety matches common faculty centre (CFC) of Virudhunagar Match consortium.

Through the 2.60 crore enterprises, around 6 crore people are employed in this sector. The MSME sector accounted for approximately 90 per cent of the work force, 45 per cent of the country's production and 35 per cent of exports, he said.

Inclusive growth

“This sector is important in achieving inclusive growth, which is part of the United Progressive Alliance Government's development agenda,” he said.

Outlining the measures initiated, he said that the National Manufacturing Competition Programme was launched to help MSMEs face the competition from global markets and multinational companies. Around Rs. 1,000 crore had been earmarked for this Programme during the 11th Five Year Plan, he said.

Mr. Patel said that proposals for establishing six CFCs in safety match cluster had been sanctioned for Tamil Nadu. The places chosen are Gudiyatham, Sattur, Srivilliputtur, Virudhunagar, Kazhugumalai, and Kovilpatti. The CFC at Periavallikulam in Virudhunagar district was the first one to become operational, he said. They have been sanctioned under the MSME - cluster development programme (CDP) with project cost of Rs. 1.56 crore for each CFC, of which Central Government would contribute Rs. 85.54 lakh.

Model cluster

Speaking earlier, K.K.S.S. R. Ramachandran, State Minister for Backward Classes, told the industrialists to make this project a model cluster for the rest of the country. Manicka Tagore, Virudhunagar MP, said that more development projects would be undertaken in the district. Hukum Singh Meena, Joint Development Commissioner, MSME Ministry, said that the environment created by the CFCs would support MSMEs and help them sustain their bottom line.

Separate MSME policy

G. Sundaramurthi, Industries Commissioner, said that Tamil Nadu was the first State in the country to announce a separate policy for MSMEs. Sigy Thomas Vaidhyan, District Collector, said that cluster development programme was performing well in her district. In two years' time, she said, the industries here could increase production by 50 per cent and productivity by 40 per cent. V.M.G. Rajasekaran, president, All India Match Federation, N. Pandiarajan, managing director, Virudhunagar Match Consortium, spoke.