NEW DELHI || Union Minister for MSME Nitin Gadkari has assured the Footwear Industry of all possible support from the government to tide over the challenges created by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He was interacting with the representatives of Confederation of Indian Footwear Industries via video conferencing from Nagpur. Gadkari said the government has only yesterday released over Rs. 5204 crores to MSMEs as a refund from Income Tax Department in last 10 days which will help the sector in a big way.
The Minister called upon the industry to work upon import substitution and make use of the opportunity for export.
During the meeting, the representatives of footwear industry expressed concerns regarding lack of working capital, logistics, availability of raw material, workspace conditions, continuity of business operations and impact on demand of footwear amid COVID-19 pandemic and requested the government to take supportive measures to keep the sector afloat.
Further, it was also highlighted that even after the lockdown, production will start gradually and will take a few months to reach full capacity which would lead to issues of an excess of raw material. It was requested that footwear raw material import from China to be stopped so that raw material stock is not flooded.
Gadkari mentioned that first and foremost, while the Government has allowed certain industry sectors to start functioning, however, it also needs to be ensured by Industries that necessary preventive measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He emphasised on the usage of PPE (Masks, Sanitiser, Gloves etc.) and advised to ensure social distancing while resuming business operations.
The minister assured that he would take up relevant issues with the Finance Ministry and Commerce Ministry to provide immediate relief to the sector. Gadkari also said that the footwear industry should take a positive approach while resuming the business operations post lockdown and work together to tap the opportunities that will be created once the COVID-19 crisis gets over.