The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the Indian micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector that forms the backbone of the economy. Unlike during the first wave, the current situation is dire as the loss of lives across the country is higher.
In a time like this, the Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME) has requested the central and state governments to announce guidelines that will help sustain the livelihood of MSMEs and the lives of fellow countrymen.
Speaking on this, Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary-General, FISME said,
“The current situation, exacerbated by the pandemic, has allowed MSMEs to digitise rapidly and provided them a means to create a livelihood. However, certain regulatory impediments have gotten in the way of this progress and it is essential to overcome these in order for MSMEs to continue to create employment and boost the economy.
Home delivery of products during the lockdown hours:
In order to help citizens maintain social distancing norms and yet have access to the products they require, all forms of retail can function only by enabling home delivery of products.
No artificial distinction of essential vs non-essentials:
To enable MSMEs to eke out a living, they will be allowed to sell all products by home delivery only. This measure will help in ensuring jobs and continuity of economic activities.
One of the officials of the Ministry of MSME has also echoed similar views who was quoted as saying: “The distinction between essential and non-essential goods and services sold online could be revisited with the focus on the safe delivery to provide a wider online marketplace to MSMEs”.
Movement of goods:
There shall be no restriction of intrastate or the inter-state movement of goods. No separate permission/e-passes are required for such movements.
Facilitating ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for small sellers:
Making it easier for small businesses to be online, by reducing compliance (GST) burdens and registration norms, would go a long way in enabling the digitisation of MSMEs. The regulatory framework should focus on enabling parity between offline and online sellers, encouraging small sellers to join the digital economy and pursue growth.
Prioritise vaccination for MSMEs/home delivery personnel:
State governments should treat ecommerce delivery personnel as frontline workers and accord priority vaccinations for them. Given the responsibility they carry, prioritising vaccination for ecommerce workers will also go a big way in protecting their livelihood and the health of their families.
Protection against vandalism/police action:
Policing and other authorities must advise not to inconvenience the home delivery personnel or the employees working with ecommerce/MSMEs organisations.
Anil also added, “States must desist from making arbitrary changes to lockdown guidelines and must give a steady policy for a three week period duration. This helps MSMEs manage their working capital and sustain their businesses. Any form of discontinuity or restriction of their businesses can lead to wiping out their existence itself.”