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Pay salaries of MSME staffers from ESI corpus: Panel

Hence, he said, paying them wages using ESI corpus would greatly benefit employees in earning their livelihood during the lockdown period as the employers are finding it difficult to pay them. 

Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider payment of wages to employees of all Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) from Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) corpus. 

In a letter to the Prime Min ister, KCCI president Isaac Vas said MSMEs are facing a very difficult time due to the extended lockdown and hence there is a need to implement a suitable solution to raise the sinking industries. “We understand that the ESI has a surplus corpus of Rs 60,000 crore collected over the period. These funds primarily belong to employers and employees who have been contributing over the period.”

He said small industries are hugely burdened with the fixed costs like paying rent, security, salaries, electricity while the revenues are hit hard and in some cases no revenues during this period. Many MSMEs industries are not able to pay salaries to their employees. Though these employers have been always remitting the statutory contributions of EPF, ESI and also the EMI contributions, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has hit them hard resulting in default of payment of salaries too.

Hence, he said, paying them wages using ESI corpus 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% of the wages during the lockdown period from the corpus. This would also help the industries to retain manpower against migrating to other places or hometown in search of livelihood.”