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SSI Bill likely in Budget session

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Dec. 12

SMALL Enterprises Development Bill, 2003 is likely to be tabled in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session 2004, according to Mr Tapan Sikdar, Union Minister of State for Small-Scale Industry.

Participating in a seminar on `Small Enterprises - Impact of Globalisation and Strategies', organised jointly by the All India Management Association, the Calcutta Management Association and the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry here today, Mr Sikdar said the proposed legislation will help protect the small-scale enterprises from the rigours of inspector-raj. The draft legislation, which was prepared by the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, is now pending before the Union Cabinet.

"After taking the views of all the industry associations and the different ministries, the Bill has been redrafted. We are expecting that Parliament will pass this Bill during the winter session," Mr Sikdar said.

He observed that the Union Government might consider a special rate of interest for bank loans for the SSI sector. According to him, several representations have already been made and the Prime Minister has given an assurance that something would be done.

"In all probability, the Union Finance Minister will make an announcement while placing the Union Budget, next year, in the Lok Sabha," he clarified.

Mr B.S. Minhas, Secretary, Small-Scale sector, Government of India, said that the lifting of quantitative restrictions has not affected the small-scale sector as the segment has continued to grow and contribute approximately 35 per cent to the total exports of the country.

He, however, felt that the small-scale entrepreneurs regularly face problems for financing their projects. According to him, the first generation entrepreneurs face this problem more than the second or third generation entrepreneurs.

After several discussions with the banks and representatives of the Indian Bankers Association, the Union Government has found out that lending money in the retail sector was more lucrative for banks than the small-scale units.

According to him, the exposure of the banks in the small-scale sector has dropped from 17 per cent in 1996-97 to less than 11 per cent in 2002-03. " I will request all the small-scale entrepreneurs to prepare viable project reports so that they become attractive for the bankers to invest," he suggested.

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