Demonetisation and GST are in currency. The impact of these two key economic policy decisions on business in general and small businesses in particular is a matter of debate. Leading industry chambers are seized of the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead in view of initiation of these two bold economic reforms.
Perminder Jeet Kaur, Regional Director (East and North Eastern India), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) spoke to Joydeep Das Gupta of SMEpost on a wide range of topics including demonetisation and the enactment of the new GST Bill. She is bullish and hopes both these moves to promote transparency in business. Edited interview excerpts:
Q: How do you view the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee notes?
A: This is a very bold move and a positive move for the country. Yes there is little inconvenience since people have to stand in queues. We are getting positive feedback as well. Our members have shared that long pending dues are being cleared in view of demonetization. Ultimately payments are getting cleared. Yes, some of these payments have been in old currency.
Small industries are generally happy. We are definitely supporting the move. It will enable businesses to be more transparent.
Q: How do you see the move impacting small businesses in India?
A: This initiative will certainly put fear in the minds of the people (that you can’t run away from the system). Every government tries to strengthen the system. But this move of the present government is certainly a concrete step towards systematic development of the country. Every government wants the system to be strong to curb parallel economy and this step has actually made it possible.
Q: How do you evaluate policy support of the Government of India and the State government to the SME sector?
A: If we talk about central government, the government has already initiated various positive moves to promote SMEs in the country. The major things to welcome SMEs are through Capacity building, Business interaction, and International Machinery procurement and government of India helps the SMEs by arranging all these. They occasionally send representatives from industries outside India to learn technology from advanced countries to help set up plants. The Centre had also made it is easy to bid for its projects. Earlier bidding required at least three years of experience but now the government has made it free for all. Even a new company can compete in the bid to get business.
If we talk about West Bengal, the government’s MSME departments have opened up a funding scheme. If you are a new company, you go to them and they will guide you what to do and how to do, like what documents are needed and all. So that when you apply, your process of approval shouldn’t be stopped. They prepare you in advance and help by providing funding. They also reach out to people at district through district level MSME district units.
Likewise Orissa also has brought about some flexible initiatives. In North East as well there has been attention given to the SME sector. North east does not have too many manufacturing units.
It is our duty as a leading chamber to disseminate information about various government schemes so that small business gets a fillip.
Q: How do you view the passing of GST Bill recently?
A: Our chamber has been advocating GST since 2007 and we have several recommendations that we made have been accepted by the government. We are running a national series in 26 states. We are also organizing a GST series in our Kolkata Regional Office, where officials from Finance Ministry will come and guide how to file GST online through portal where officials will give a live demonstration.
Q: What according to you the government should do to improve SME sector in India?
A: We have a help desk. But I think if these help desks are armed with more power enabling prompt action things would improve faster. We need to reach out at the district level to be able to help a much larger set of small businesses.
What we are advocating is a system of quick relief: you go and all your problems get solved easily. Such a system needs to be encouraged. SME sector is a space where word of mouth marketing works well; if you get the services you will share the good will with other start-ups and industries and this helps promote a positive ecosystem.
Q: Your message on behalf of ASSOCHAM to SMEs in the region?
A: Our message to SMEs is ASSOCHAM as a chamber is committed to support you. If you have any issue come to us and we will help you solving the issue even if it is with Government or any other body.