Kerala

In Kerala, MSMEs hit by COVID-19 lockdown demand a special package for revival

The MSMEs face financial liabilities in the form of fixed charge on connected power load, statutory payments like PF and ESI contributions as well as rentals.   | Photo Credit: M. PERIASAMY

The nearly 2.5 lakh micro, small and medium-scale industries (MSMEs) in Kerala, employing more than two million people, are feeling the pinch of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions hampering movement of workers and raw materials.

They also face financial liabilities in the form of fixed charge on connected power load, statutory payments like PF and ESI contributions as well as rentals.

Only about half of the industrial units that are exempted from the COVID-19 lockdown are operational now, said K. A. Joseph, an industrial unit owner in Kalamassery on Tuesday.

He said that about 20 per cent of the around 2.5 lakh units are essential services that have been permitted to operate amid the lockdown. However, only about half of these units are operational now for various reasons ranging from raw material shortage to shortage of workers, he said.

Ancillary units

One of the worst-hit sectors is export-oriented units, said Mr. Joseph. These units need to work to see that their orders are carried out in a timely manner. But the operations of these export units also depend on the working of ancillary units and it has become difficult to get permission for these units to operate amid the lockdown.

In a recent appeal to the State government, Kerala State Small Industries Association said that MSMEs continued to reel under the fallout of events like the 2018 and 2019 floods, the first year of COVID and the present lockdown to contain the pandemic. To nurse back the MSMEs to health, the State must step in and declare a special package and provide some relief measures.

Interest subsidy

In a letter to K. Elangovan, Principal Secretary, Industries, from KSSIA president M. Khalid said that a broader package of interest subsidy would help the MSMEs in a big way.

The industries also want the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) not to impose fixed charges during the period when industrial units are not operational. The units also want the power board to provide an extended period of time to pay the bills, avoiding fines, once the units restarted operations.

The association is also of the view that all the MSMEs should be allowed to operate with the pandemic protocol in place. There is a case for allowing defence and aerospace-oriented units and hospital equipment makers to operate by following the protocol, KSSIA said.

The units also want a moratorium for a year to allow them to repay the loans without interest as well as a moratorium on payment of bills from local self-government bodies that include water charges, taxes, licence fee and so on.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 10:06:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/in-kerala-msmes-hit-by-covid-19-lockdown-demand-a-special-package-for-revival/article34585483.ece

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