'On the road, you see only youth in Swiggy, Big Basket and Zomato uniforms.'
'Just now, I had a delivery from Amazon, and do you know what his qualification was? He was an engineering graduate!'
'The Ola driver who took me to the airport had an MCom degree.
'Where is the match between education and employment?'
One sector that continues to struggle despite all the stimulus packages announced by the government is the MSME sector (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).
It all started with demonetisation, followed by the faulty implementation of GST.
Then came the pandemic and the circle of woes was complete.
Reports say 9% of MSMEs have closed down due to the pandemic in the last two years.
K E Raghunathan, convenor, Consortium of Indian Associations, who had told Rediff.com last year that the MSMEs were in the ICU, says that this year they are either suffocating or in the burial ground now.
The second of a three-part interview with Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier:
- Part I: 'Perhaps they want MSMEs to die'
The criticism is that the government favours only the big corporates... While the number of billionaires increased in the last one year, about 9% of the MSMEs closed down during the pandemic.
It is not 9%, in my opinion, 30% of MSMEs closed during the pandemic.
Many self-employed entrepreneurs have wound up their professional activities.
I would reiterate that this country has lost 30% of the self-employed during the pandemic.
On one side, people are becoming poorer with no jobs in the market and no money in their hands.
On the other side, the number of billionaires has gone up.
Do you know why the sales of two wheelers have gone up? Because young, educated people are working for Swiggy, Zomato, Big Basket and Amazon, and they need two wheelers for work.
On the road, you see only youth in Swiggy, Big Basket and Zomato uniforms.
Just now, I had a delivery from Amazon, and do you know what his qualification was? He was an engineering graduate! The Ola driver who took me to the airport had an MCom degree.
What kind of jobs are you talking about? Where is the match between education and employment? What do we mean by skilling and reskilling?
The finance minister the other day said, politics should not play any role in economic development. Agreed.
But the fact is about 50 lakh MSMEs went on a one-day strike protesting the raw material price increase.
But did the Government of India come out with any solution to the problem?
What should the government do to protect the MSME sector?
First, I appeal to the government not to use the word MSME hereafter.
You must address the problems of the micro enterprises separately.
Micro enterprises cannot be clubbed with medium scale industries.
How can you compare a Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 a month turnover company with a Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) per month turnover company?
You deal with the small and micro enterprises separately, and the medium enterprises separately.
The fact is, 99% of the MSME enterprises in this country are micro, and they are the ones that are dying.
What has the government done to take care of them?
Now the government says it would take a re-look at the GST taxation.
I want to ask the finance minister, are the micro entrepreneurs in the country 'experimental rats'?
Every time they tinker with the GST policy, it affects the micro enterprises very badly.
Compliance of the GST has become draconian.
What is not our responsibility has been pushed on as our responsibility.
If the supplier does not remit the claimed GST, we become accountable.
- Part III: 'Govt must stop harassing entrepreneurs'
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com