Convert crisis into opportunity, accelerate infra projects during lockdown: Gadkari
India should convert the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity, accelerate infrastructure projects and win the war against the coronavirus to achieve economic growth, Union minister for road transport and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
“Indian industry should look at the current situation as a blessing in disguise and aim towards improving its export potential,” Gadkari said in a discussion with members of FICCI via video conference.
The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) minister also told industry officials to clear pending dues owed by them to units to ease distress in the sector and inject liquidity into the market.
Ensuring liquidity in the market is key during the crisis and to ensure this, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has started settling all pending claims and arbitration, he said.
The ministry has a definitive plan to clear all legitimate claims within three months, he said. “Time taken in reaching decisions should be kept at the minimum possible to avoid delays. For this purpose, I have requested all chairmen of such bodies to work till 7 pm everyday instead of 5 pm at present,” he added.
Referring to the importance of liquidity in markets, he said his ministry is striving to increase credit guarantee for MSMEs to Rs 5 lakh crore from Rs 1 lakh crore at present, wherein 75% of advances granted by financial institutions are under the government’s credit guarantee scheme.
MSMEs contribute 29% of the country’s GDP, Gadkari noted. “The government’s endeavour was to protect MSMEs from the coronavirus-induced crisis. We have decided to raise (turnover) limits for MSMEs. I would like to request you, major industries also have huge outstanding dues of MSMEs,” he said.
“We were earlier considering framing a law entailing stringent rules regarding such payments. However, now is not the right time for this. We do not wish to go down that road. An order to this effect should hopefully be out in eight to 10 days, which will naturally enhance their coverage,” he added.
Gadkari informed the industry that RBI has allowed rescheduling of term loans and working capital facilities. He called on the industry sector to work in tandem with the government and banking sector.
Construction of highways, which witnessed record growth during 2019-20, should increase pace by two to three times in the coming years to meet growing needs for infrastructure, Gadkari said. The ministry plans to go ahead with critical projects during the lockdown.
“We have spoken to the Uttarakhand government for starting work on the Char Dham Expressway National Highway project. Necessary precautions of social distancing etc will be taken for the construction,” he said.
To kick-start recovery for the road sector, the ministry is open to re-starting projects at different locations on the condition that adequate measures are put in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, he added.