Exclusive | Focus on MSMEs, Jobs: Nitin Gadkari on COVID-19 Crisis

In an exclusive interview with The Quint, Nitin Gadkari discusses government’s plan to tackle the job crisis.

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Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

In an exclusive interview with The Quint's Editorial Director Sanjay Pugalia, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari discusses the government's plan to tackle the job and economic crisis during the COVID-19 outbreak, how he plans to activate the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) industry, and his view of the continuing lockdown in India.

‘Govt Hopeful of Controlling COVID-19 Crisis in 8-10 Days’

Commenting on the three-week nationwide lockdown in India, the minister for Road Transport & Highways of India and Shipping Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises said that the government is hopeful of controlling the coronvairus outbreak in eight to ten days. On the question of extending the lockdown, Gadkari said that the increase in the number of infections is a matter of concern. He added that due to different number of cases and hotspots in different states, it is essential that a special action plan is made for those areas.

‘Have to Activate MSMEs, and Create Jobs’

The lockdown has had a massive impact on the Indian economy, especially the MSME sector. In the interview, Gadkari outlined his plan to activate the industry, and simultaneously create jobs. He said:

“Currently, it is important to activate the MSME, and we are making policies for that. This includes increasing export and decreasing imports. Apart from this, we are also working on how to create employment. For this, we are focusing on job creation in agriculture, tribal and rural sectors. We are also working on new technologies, and plans.” 
Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister

Do Companies Need a New & Complete Package?

As firms across India face the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, is there a change in the old parameters for MSMEs? Gadkari replied to this saying:

“From MSME to housing loans, and transport loans -- everything has been stopped. We have also taken the decision to increase the working capital by 10 percent. Till liquidity doesn’t come into the market, there will be troubles with payment. But I have emphasised, that as much is possible, people should pay.”

‘We Are Slowly Opening Up Transport’

Truck drivers and migrant labourers have been struck ever since PM Modi announced a three-week lockdown, to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. How difficult it would be to open up the industry in this situation, after the lockdown? Gadkari said:

“We are slowly opening up transport, and truck drovers too are coming, but it’s a little difficult. We have said that those who are taking responsibility for the functioning of its industries, should be allowed to work with the existing guidelines. We have told the PM that where there is no fear, full protection must be provide, and work must resume.”

During the interview, Gadkari also admitted that he didn't anticipate the migrant worker crisis after the lockdown. Watch the full interview above!

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