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MSMEs worried over possible third wave

Talks doing the round about possible tightening of lockdown to contain the third wave of COVID-19 has unnerved the MSME sector in Tiruchi region.

Several MSME units that are on the verge of slipping into Non-Performing Assets (NPA) categorisation by banks will wilt under the adverse circumstances, says R. Ilango, president of Tiruchi District Tiny and Small Scale Industries' Association.

“We are still reeling under the impact of the first two phases of strict lockdown. We earnestly hope that the government permits functioning of the units where workers are fully vaccinated,” Mr. Ilango said.

A good number of units had ensured vaccination of their employees. Though there was hesitation among the workers initially, they have come around to realising that vaccination is the only way out to sustain thier livelihood, he said.

The banks have not been liberal in handling the financially-battered units that have been undertaking conversion works for BHEL for which orders had dwindled due to the absence of level-playing field in the international bidding of thermal projects.

The sops announced by the Central Government has provided some financial cushioning, since they are in the form of soft loans. But then, the debt-servicing requirements have only been enlarged further, the promoters of industry units rue.

On its part, the BHEL has been persistently pursuing with the Central Government its request for bailing out the MSME units in Tiruchi region.

Recently, BHELSIA president Rajappa Rajkumar called on L. Murugan, Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Information & Broadcasting, and requested him to take necessary steps to save MSME units in Tamil Nadu, especially the Tiruchi engineering units depending on BHEL, from collapse.

Mr. Murugan had promised to liaise with the ministries concerned for settling the long- pending issues, including the necessity for releasing pending thermal power plant orders to BHEL for the survival of the vendors.