MSME industry representatives in Tamil Nadu want the State government to take measures similar to those by taken other domains. The sector expects, among other things, a relaxation of labour laws, Rs 5,000 payment to around 500,000 migrant labours so that they can be retained, and exemptions in fixed power charges to tide through the current crisis these units are facing.
Theirs demands also include inreasing the working hours to 12 a day, or 72 hours a week, similar to what the Uttar Pradesh government has announced, and lesser documentation or simplifications, as in the case of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, said K E Raghunathan, former national president of All India Manufacturers Organisation (AIMO).
AIMO also called for a one-year exemption from labour laws for units registered after December 2019. It said the state government should also consider allowing individual units to arrive at the number of working persons they need, overtime payments, and incentives, without any interference from the government. Explaining the reason for this demand, AIMO said recovery time and preparation time will vary from one industry to another.
"These changes do not hamper any existing welfare or protection (schemes) of the workers and it is time that they fight and survive these difficult times as a team. Better understanding is required at this hour of crisis," said Raghunathan. He added that around 33 per cent of MSMEs in the country, employing over one milliin 'guest' or migrant labourers, are located in Tamil Nadu.
"The state must offer such workers a choice of either ticket fare or Rs 5,000 as ad-hoc relief to dissuade them from returning to their home states and thereby affecting the resumption of Industries within Tamil Nadu," Raghunathan said.
The Coimbatore District Small Industries Association (CODISSIA) has said that the organisation, along with a joint action council of 20 industry organisations, is currently studying the labour laws and the changes other States has implemented. It will soon submit a representation with the State government for its support, said R Ramamurthy, president, CODISSIA.
So far, the Association has been focusing on seeking necessary support from the Central government and is expecting the Centre will come out with some announcements to help the industries. CODISSIA, along with the other industry organisation represents more than 50,000 units,
An official from the State government has said that it has not received many requests regarding labour law relaxtion and others, and a couple of such requests for support which are with the government wil be discussed in the investment promotion committee.
The Tamil Nadu government, on Saturday, has constituted a high level committee headed by former Governor of Reserve Bank of India and former Chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council C Rangarajan with economists, experts from the industry and officials to assess the overall immediate and medium term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on different sectors of the State's economy and identify possible sources of financing and funding.
However, Ragunathan alleged that there are no representatives from the sector in the committee of 24 members.
"Almost 10 present in the committee are serving IAS officers who are already involved in many other committees and only 3 representative of industry is there. Even the three appointed have no direct exposure to MSME sector nor have undergone the pains of the MSME Entrepreneur by themself," he added.
Ramamurthy said that the association is expecting the government will later include some of the MSME members in the committee.
The State government has said that the lockdown and the social distancing measures required to be taken post lockdown, to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus are bound to have a medium term impact on the economy of the State including different sectors like Agriculture, Industries, Services, including tourism, construction, real estate and retail trade among others.
The State government observed that it is essential to deliberate on and to make recommendations on the policy measures to be undertaken by the State government to bring the economy back to the expected growth trajectory, ensuring the needs and requirements of the poor are addressed, the supply of essential commodities is maintained undisturbed, while limiting the longer term fiscal deterioration.
The committee will assess the opportunities and threats in the short and medium term and measures required to help the importawnt sectors of the economy to overcome the impact of the pandemic, identify specific reform measures to be taken by the State government to support and promote the growth of important sectors, and identify possible sources of financing and funding for different sectors including infrastructure projects, small businesses and other enterprises.
The committee shall submit its final reports to the Government within three months time and also submit interim report. The Committee include A Vellayan, former chairman of Murugappa Group, N Srinivasan, vice chairman and MD of The India Cements Ltd, Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motors, Padmaja Chunduru, managing director of Indian Bank, P N Vasudevan, managing director and CEO of Equitas Bank, apart from bureaucrats and academicians.