'Fresh investment may generate sizeable employment in Assam'

Sentinel Digital Desk

GUWAHATI: A study brought out by the MSME Export Promotion Council (EPC) jointly with knowledge firm BillMart FinTech has revealed that Assam is increasingly emerging as an epicentre for investment, both for the Government and the private sector, and during the current financial year, it may generate over one lakh direct and indirect jobs provided the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

The study presented to the State Government says that most of the private investment is flowing in the agro-industries such as food processing, horticulture, organic, micro, small and medium enterprises, and petroleum-based units. These sectors generate more jobs and promote start-ups, ensure inclusive growth and sustainable livelihood.

Sharing the highlights of the study at the press conference here on Wednesday, the MSME EPC chairman, Dr DS Rawat, and BillMart FinTech, co-founder & CEO Jigish Sonagara said that the two organizations will voluntarily be enhancing entrepreneurial skill, up-date the knowledge on various policies as well as incentives available, improving financial literacy, train manpower on application of technologies to multiply growth of their businesses.

The two organizations will also hold an Assam Women Entrepreneurs Conclave and 2nd Start-up and Stand-up North East with participation from ASIAN and BIMSTEC countries with a view to promote women entrepreneurship in the State.

BillMart FinTech will connect and facilitate businesses to avail affordable working capital finance when required and other help with a view to mitigate the hardships they are facing. The two organizations will also be signing memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard with various associations and Government bodies dealing with the MSMEs sector in the State.

The study observed that in the year 2018-19, Assam attracted new investment projects worth Rs 116202.6 million and completed projects worth Rs 153351.6 million. In 2019-20 the new projects were worth Rs 32338.4 million, the completed projects were worth Rs74478.3 million and in 2020-21, Rs 6902.3 million worth of projects were received and the projects completed were worth Rs 33986.6 million. Once the projects are speeded up, direct/indirect jobs will be generated in large numbers.

It was mentioned that three pending investment projects worth Rs 1832.7 million were also revived in 2018-19, 5 in 2019-20 of Rs 615 million and one project was revived in 2020-21.

According to the CMIE data, the total number of investment projects outstanding in 2018-19 was worth of Rs 2606752.5 million, in 2019-20 worth Rs 2599740.5 million and in 2020-21 worth Rs 2468694.2 million.

On the other hand, the investment projects under implementation in 2018-19 were worth Rs 2175112 million, in 2019-20 worth Rs 2146926.6 million and in 2020-21 worth Rs 2171097.7 million.

Rawat suggested setting up of a high powered committee headed by the Chief Minister to expedite the clearances and implementation of the projects to avoid the escalation in the cost.

The study found that the MSME sector is the fastest-growing sector in Assam in terms of output, investment, number of units and employment generation. This sector is dominant in the State as compared with other Northeastern States because 61.48% of the MSMEs units are concentrated in Assam and the rest 38.52% are located in the rest of the States of the North-East region. The study, published by the Journal of Development Economics and Management Research Studies in 2020, says 51.5% of fixed investment, 6.2% of output and 55.12% of employment of entire North-East is shared by Assam.

There are approximately over 67,000 number of industries in Assam, out of which 88% is micro, and 11.5% is small and medium. Recently, the Central Government sanctioned over Rs. 1,536 crore for setting up of micro, small and medium enterprises under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

The two institutions feel that there exists enormous threats and challenges for the survival and growth of MSMEs. The rate of growth occupation and wealth in Assam cannot keep pace with this high rate of population growth, creating problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality of income in the region. It has been observed that the biggest challenge to the MSMEs is unavailability of timely capital and as a result they suffer from either shrinking of operations or liquefying the enterprise itself. However, the liquidity can be solved if there is an alternate mechanism to organize timely competitive credit, said Sonagara.

Therefore, to help the micro, small, medium and start-up enterprises the BillMart has launched a MSME GAIN (Growth and Intelligence Network) with a vision to benefit one crore MSMEs with 100 crore hours of knowledge up-gradation by 2024 throughout the country. MSME GAIN is a new world for knowledge with the latest information, articles, videos, events, training, networking, and everything about businesses, connecting smart MSMEs for growth.

The MSME EPC chairman said the EPC has created a special division on North- East Economic Development in the secretariat to attract and advocate for investing in the northeastern region, provide entrepreneurial skill training use of technology, facilitate marketing and connecting with technology institutions globally.

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