Calling for a “reappraisal” of the union government’s Aatmanirbhar relief package, Telangana state information technology (IT) and industries minister KT Rama Rao (KTR) on Thursday wrote a letter to union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighting concerns of the state government with regard to the scheme.
KTR’s letter stated that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), for whom the the package was introduced, have been hit badly. “More than 80% of the MSMEs in our state have faced a negative impact mainly due to the heavy lockdown of last year, and above 25% have lost significant revenues,” he said.
The IT minister said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government announced the Aatmanirbhar relief package of Rs.20 lakh crore for all the sectors adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. “However, one year down the line, I regret to mention that the impact of the package has been minimal for this sector that has really faced the brunt of the pandemic,” stated KTR in his letter.
Further, mentioning the “most touted” Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line scheme of the union government, KTR said that Rs. 3 lakh crore was allotted for the same. “In Telangana at least, the MSME units themselves did not find anything specifically attractive in the scheme. In hindsight, it appears that the scheme has been designed with the sole principle of making its administration simple,” he said, censuring the central government.
Pointing out that the union government’s scheme is basically not working, the IT and industries minister said that every MSME has unique challenges, and that a “one size fits all” kind of scheme “hardly is the answer”. KTR said that other programmes like the Subordinate Debt scheme for stressed MSMEs offer a “very meagre loan amount.
“What will really work is a solid financial grant that takes care of all the losses the MSMEs have suffered due to the pandemic. There are two other schemes also targeted at the MSMEs in the Aatmanirbhar relief package. One of them is meant for stressed MSMEs and the other one is for innovative MSMEs. Unfortunately, these two have been complete non-starters not just in Telangana, but as data reveals, in the entire country,” KTR also claimed, with regard to the union government’s MSME schemes.
Towards the end, concluding his letter, KTR essentially sought a review of the MSME schemes, or a “reappraisal of the Aatmanirbhar relief package”, and asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led union government to “make it work more realistically and humanly for the most affected constituents”. The industries minister added that states will follow suit and match the government of India’s efforts with their own.