Bhubaneswar: Policy experts and economic planners have urged the government to expedite payments due to MSMEs from government departments and public sector undertakings, to help small businesses and the economy turn around from the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts at a webinar organized by the Forum for Odisha Dialogues also said there’s an urgent need to revive the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Facilitation Council (MSMEFC) so that there is timely resolution of payment disputes among MSMEs and bottlenecks relating to raw material supplies.
Prof. DV Ramana, who chaired the webinar titled ‘Small Businesses Can Make A Big Difference’, said although Odisha’s economy has been growing faster than the national average in recent years, it continues to be counted among the underdeveloped states. “This is reflected in the sluggish growth of small businesses and absence of a vibrant business climate for entrepreneurship in the state,” he remarked.
Odisha accounted for only 1.5% of the 69,673 micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) set up in India during 2018-19. Less than 10% of the small and medium businesses in Odisha had an investment of Rs 5 lakh and above, while the corresponding figure for states like Gujarat and Maharashtra is 43% and 34%, respectively.
It was pointed out that from lacking in the “ease of doing business” to bureaucratic red tape and inadequate institutional support, small businesses continue to face formidable challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation.
Dr Arun Panda, former MSME secretary, Government of India, said a major challenge for MSMEs is securing timely payment from the government and public sector undertakings for products and services supplied.
“Why should an entrepreneur from Koraput have to come to Bhubaneswar to get a dispute resolved?” he questioned, suggesting that MSME Facilitation Council (MSMEFC) be revived and expanded to include regional chapters.
Prof. Keshab Das of Gujarat Institute of Development Research said that although the role of MSMEs in accelerating growth and creating jobs is well acknowledged, such intentions do not necessarily translate into action.
“Among other things, this is manifest in the lack of credible data on the MSME sector… Most data are 4-5 years old and often not accessible, because they are not collated and kept properly – a problem prevalent across the country including Odisha. To make policy intervention effective, this anomaly must be corrected,” Das advocated.
Executive director of Milk Mantra Rashima Mishra observed that Odisha severely lacks in branding and marketing its manufactured products which has emerged as the leading diary brand of the state in a very short period.
“Odisha is a big bucket consumer. We need to understand the needs of the local customers and create the relevant value propositions,” Rashima said, explaining the success of Milky Moo brand.
Satwik Swain, secretary-general of the Odisha Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (OASME), said the government must move quickly on its decision to comprehensively digitalize data on the MSME sector.
Several other eminent academics and policy experts like former professor of economics at Delhi School of Economics Dr Pulin B Nayak, former deputy governor of RBI Harun Khan, former chief secretary of Odisha Jugal Mohapatra and healthcare expert Dr Bidhu Kalyan Mohanti took part in the webinar.
According to Odisha Dialogues Founder-Director Rajesh Mahapatra, the webinar was organized to initiate a longer-term engagement on a very important aspect of economic recovery.