A panel discussion on ‘MSMEs – The Engine of Growth’ was conducted under the banner of Business Standard Smart Business
in association with CCC in Kolkata. A huge pool of skilled labourers is one of the biggest strengths of West Bengal, and it can be instrumental in fueling the much-needed industrial growth in the state, according to experts at the panel discussion. Speaking at the event, Rajiva Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and Textiles, Government of West Bengal, said the state exported a large number of skilled labourers in sectors such as foundry, garments, leather and gems and jewellery to other states, and it was an asset which the government needed to capitalise upon.
“In case of big industries like steel or cement, job created per crore is close to five, whereas in case of small units, job created per crore is about 50-60. So this is a wealth that we need to capitalise. The traditional workforce is here, and ease of doing business is at par with any other part of the country,” said Sinha. He added that statistics showed there had been a tremendous growth in the MSME sector in West Bengal in the past five years. Dipankar Dasgupta, former professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, said, keeping in mind the problem of unemployment, MSMEs could provide an alternative solution to big industries in the state.
“MSMEs have lower capital requirement than big industries. Keeping the problem of unemployment in mind, focusing on the MSME sector growth is the right way to go ahead for industrialisation. Hence, for a state like West Bengal, where there are not many big industries, MSMEs can be an engine of growth. In fact, MSMEs account for about 90 per cent of industrial units in West Bengal,” said Dasgupta.
Given the diversity in different districts of West Bengal, West Bengal should focus on developing industries based on the inherent strength of each district, added Dasgupta. This would also help to bring unregistered units under mainstream economy in the state, he added.
“The government has been trying to integrate MSMEs with mainstream economy. The number of registered units have been on increase. The only problem is that across the districts of West Bengal, there is huge disparity in terms of number of units. For example, Howrah has the highest number of industrial units, whereas Darjeeling has the lowest number of units. There is probably, one issue that the government can look into, that is try find out which districts are best suited for which kind of units,” said Dasgupta.
However, according to Sinha, the government should not be prescriptive and entrepreneurs should themselves capitalise on the right opportunity. “We should not decide which district should have which industry. That way we will be killing entrepreneurship. We have to create a generation which has the potential to become an entrepreneur,” said Sinha.
Speaking at the event, Rajendra Khandelwal, President, Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, said, “MSMEs are important for balanced and equitable regional growth. This sector provides employment to nearly 59.7 million people, and accounts for 45 per cent of manufacturing output and 40 per cent total export of the country. West Bengal had more than 3.7 million MSMEs units,” he added.