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Consider ESIC corpus to pay salaries to MSME employees: KCCI to PM

MSMEs are hugely burdened with fixed costs such as rent payment, security, salaries, and electricity, while revenues have been hit hard

The Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has urged the Prime Minister to consider the payment of wages to the employees of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) from the corpus of ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation).

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the President of KCCI, Isaac Vas, said that the inevitable Covid-induced lockdown has affected the economy drastically. MSMEs are facing a very difficult time due to the extended lockdown.

The Karnataka government implemented a lockdown on April 23 which continued till June 14. It has been further extended till June 21 in some districts, including Dakshina Kannada.

Stating that MSMEs are hugely burdened with fixed costs such as rent payment, security, salaries, and electricity, he said revenues have been hit hard. In some cases, MSMEs did not even get any revenues during the lockdown period and many MSMEs were not able to pay salaries to their employees.

Though these employers have always been remitting the statutory contributions of EPF, ESI and the EMI contributions; the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has hit them hard resulting in default of payment of salaries too.

ESIC Corpus

“During these tough times, there is a need to implement a suitable solution to raise the sinking industries. We understand that the ESIC has a surplus corpus of ?60,000 crore collected over the period. These funds primarily belong to employers and employees who have been contributing over the period,” he said.

Requesting the Prime Minister to consider payment of wages from ESIC corpus to the employees of all MSMEs, he said: “This would greatly benefit employees in earning their livelihood during the lockdown period as the employers are finding it difficult to pay them. You may consider paying 50 per cent of the wages during the lockdown period from the corpus. This would also help the industries to retain the manpower against migrating to other places or hometown in search of livelihood.”

MSMEs are the backbone of the economy and provider of huge employmen , he said, adding they need this support during the current difficult times.