Nearly 40 per cent of micro, small and medium enterprises in Himachal Pradesh may be “wiped out” due to effects of the ongoing pandemic, said Ramesh Jain, chairperson of HP state chapter, PHD Chamber of Commerce, in an interaction with the media here on Wednesday.
Jain said that industrial units in the state are facing a shortage of manpower and mobility, disruption of the cash flow cycle and decrease in demand. “There has been an exodus of workers from the state even even though we encouraged them to stay here. In my manufacturing unit, for example, we provided the employees with free stay, food and various other facilities during the lockdown. However, as soon as
inter-state movement was relaxed, they went back home,” he said.
The PHDCCC has sought waiver of fixed electricity charges during the lockdown period, conversion of these charges into per unit rate for at least one year when the operations resume, and relaxations in some labour laws from the state government, said Jain.
Arun Rawat, co-chairperson of the chamber, said that when a storm comes, the boats are the first to sink even as a bigger ship stays afloat. “Smaller enterprises such as ancillary units and contract manufacturers catering to larger undertakings may be hit the hardest in this scenario,” he said.
Rawat added that 90 per cent industrial and tourism units in the state are not eligible to take the benefit of the EPF support under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana because it has a condition that 90 percent employees in a unit should be drawing a monthly salary of Rs 15,000 or less. He said that the economic relief package by the Centre will benefit MSMEs if it’s implemented in letter and spirit.
‘Clarity on hospitality sector need of the hour’
Rawat said that the state government needs to come out with a clear-cut guidelines and tentative dates for resumption of tourism and hospitality in the state. Although hotels have been allowed to open from June 8, tourists from outside the state continue to remain banned. “It’s the worst-hit sector. The government must make its position clear regarding the hospitality and tourism sector so that people engaged in these sectors can plan accordingly and look for alternative income-generating activities in the meantime,” he said.
Small enterprises make up 98.6 percent of industry in state.
According to state industries department, there are about 55,500 industrial units in the state, set up at an investment of more than Rs 52 thousand crore, and employing more than 4.63 lakh people (before the lockdown). 98.6 percent of these units are small scale enterprises.
In terms of attracting investment, the ‘focus sectors’ of the department include tourism, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and food processing, education and hydropower, among others.
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