A financial safety net for MSME workers: simplified
Govt has implemented few products that benefit the workers of MSMEs if implemented comprehensively.
Recently I had an opportunity to survey the financial safety net implementation by the rural population surrounding an Industrial area, near Bangalore. Many of the members of these households are working or associated with industrial units in that cluster or elsewhere.
In our study, we found that a large section of the households have not subscribed or not even aware of the products despite being widely published by the Govt.
The financial safety net for families- a need felt across more than ever
Every family aspires to secure themselves from the shocks and difficulties of through fair distribution of their earning between savings, risk cover and retirement corpus. The flexibility to do so is very limited if the earning barely covers the living expenses. This situation puts the families into a very vulnerable state and that may act as a deterrent to getting them into activities where the perceived risk to themselves is quite high or they remain alert to risk so much that will lead to lesser productivity from them.
Since their income barely covers the living expenses, Govt has taken many initiatives to supplement these needs by introducing an array of products.
These products are very pertinent for workers in MSMEs. The income level of workers, regular or otherwise, is not very high. These products are made very affordable, meeting their needs.
Financial safetynet –composition:
The financial safety net, we are talking about comprises a few assorted products mainly from Govt sources. In recent times, Govt has made access to avail the products and also to secure the benefits under the products much easier than ever.
These comprise savings, life insurance, health cover, accident cover, pension and skill development. Details as below:
Savings products: Having a bank account is commonplace for employees and it is a good sign. However many of them are just limiting their banking transactions to the savings account and it is no surprise to find some accumulating their hard earning savings in SB account when there are opportunities to maximize their earning even from a scarce amount of savings by opting for products like recurring deposit(RD) and fixed deposits. The spinoff from having an RD account is that it prompts them to adopt a planned approach to save and at the same time maximise the earning.
Term Insurance(PMJJY): Govt has been promoting term insurance of Rs 2 lakhs for an annual payment of Rs 330. It is made available for the people of age group 18-70 years. It is very simple and does not require one to go through any procedure to assess the eligibility.
Accident Insurance(PMSBY): An accident insurance amount of 2 lakhs is available for people for annual premium payment of Rs 12 only. This will help the poor labours to secure the family against accident-related deaths.
Health Cover: To empower poor families against health-related issues. Recently Govt enacted Ayushman Bharat scheme. The coverage is as much as Rs 5 lakhs. This scheme requires one to register and take health card from the nearest Govt hospital at no cost.
Pension products: It has been since a long time that all the citizens are given an opportunity for having their pension account under the National Pension Scheme( Eligible up to 54 years). Thereafter Govt has enacted four new products for the benefit of people in the age group of 18 to 40 years for unorganized and skilled labours. It is called PMSYM( Prime Minister Shram-Yogi Mandhan Yojna) Under this scheme the labours who are not eligible from PF and ESIC can have a pension account with a monthly payment of Rs 55 to 200 depending on their age and will be eligible for a pension of Rs 3000 after 60 years. Under this scheme, the Govt will also contribute an equal amount every month.
Also, those employees who have PF benefit may opt for a pension under Atal Pension Yojna non-subsidised.
Skill Development: Skill makes an individual more valuable for society. It helps one to earn more and to enhance his/her self esteem. It motivates the people to become more productive and he/she can become a source of strength to any organisation. Seeing the skill gap and the industry’s clamouring for support, Govt(state/central) have implemented many schemes to support skill development programmes.
Supporting Employees to become Financially secured- The best CSR initiative for MSMEs:
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a new yardstick to evaluate the contribution of an enterprise for the welfare of society. Govt has implemented a law compelling large companies to mandatorily spend on their own to the welfare of the society a portion of the income. However, this is not applicable for MSMEs as they do not have enough financial flexibility to engage in such activities.
It is well said that the best CSR activity for MSMEs is to support their employees. If these MSMEs take initiative to educate and encourage the workers working within their company to take the above social security products, it will improve the goodwill and make employees feel secure. Educating and encouraging these workers to secure themselves under these products does not require any investment. It is the word of encouragement, guidance and follows up will take them to avail these benefits. Some may incentivise in different forms to make them avail these products.
There are benefits for the MSMEs. A financially and socially secured employee makes the working environment secured. Standing as a socially responsible organisation will be further reinforced.
There are many new financial products from the Govt to help the weaker section of the society to become empowered. These products are also very important for employees of MSMEs. Many of the eligible beneficiaries are not aware of these products. MSMEs may encourage workers to cover themselves under these products and make their life more secured. This will augur well for the organisation and counted as a socially responsible organisation.
Non-classifying stressed MSME Loan as NPA- It is not enough
Non-classifying stressed MSME Loan as NPA- It is not enough
Govt’s recent decision to direct banks not to classify stressed MSME loans as NPA is just a temporary relief and it is not enough to stabilize the segment reeling in distress.
Recently Union Finance Minister announced that banks will not classify stressed loans in MSME segment as NPA till March 31, 2020, thus restraining them from initiate recovery action anticipating that this will help the stressed entities to recover themselves.
Though her concern to assist MSMEs to come out of distress is appreciable, the measure in itself is not enough to stimulate the revival of the stressed entities.
MSME segment is reeling under massive slowdown beginning from 2018 due to steep decline in the demand for their products and services. Many of the MSMEs are part of the production and marketing value chain of the large companies in sectors like automobiles. The slowdown is witnessed in the sectors like the automobile has a cascading impact on the financial viability of many MSMEs countrywide.
The ongoing slowdown is unlikely to recede in the near future. Though the experts are having divergent views on the course of likely time period the slowdown will persist, it appears that demand recovery will take a few more quarters to gain momentum and this is expected to cause disruptions to many MSMEs.
Secondly, the segment is also experiencing the negative impact of the structural changes happening in the many industries due to changes in the way the buyer-seller interact on account of technology-driven processes and solutions.
Thirdly the segment is still experiencing the challenges from the lingering impact of economic measures such as demonetization and other policy actions either industry-specific or broader economic.
MSME Segment requires more than the standstill from the recovery:
The promise of standstill in recovery action can be a good measure provided the economy is in recovery or growth mode. That would have created more breathing space for many temporarily stressed entities and would have helped them to set right their finances in the next two quarters. However, given the present circumstances of negative sentiment about the economy prevailing in the country, this measure is of no help either to banks or entrepreneurs.
What are the most feasible solution for reviving MSME segment?
There were few measures announced by the Govt in the last few years and more recently on January 1 2019. These measures coupled with few more amendments can become a strong anchor to promote the revival of MSMEs. We discuss them as below:
Enforce rigorously the RBI guidelines issued on January 2019 to restructure stressed entities:
RBI had issued guidelines to support the restructuring of stressed MSME loans on January 1, 2019, without classifying the restructured loans as NPA. The guideline incentivizes the banks by allowing them to not to treat such restructured accounts as NPA The new guidelines will be available on up to March 2020.
Effective implementation of these provisions definitely of help to stressed MSMEs. They will get breathing space and can reset the growth strategy. However, the implementation so far is far from satisfactory.
Extend resolution support to revive the stressed entities to give rebirth to them that involves writeoff/waiver of a part of dues to banks:
Many of these MSMEs are victims of the inability to adjust to expected and unexpected changes in the external environment like Demonetisation and GST implementation.
These stressed MSMEs have the potential to turnaround and can contribute significantly to the national economy as well as local communities in terms of job and earnings. However, the accumulated debt burden during the last few years of distress makes them unviable to face the competition. The level of debt (from the bank and others put together) is beyond the sustainable level.
These units require broad-based resolution support. The resolution support must have enabling provision for reassessing the debt servicing capacity and identifying the level of sustainable debt.
Taking a cue from the performance of IBC (Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code), we feel that MSMEs may be extended support through write off/waiver of dues as a measure to revive the segment. The big loan accounts are resolved with substantial haircuts under IBC route. In some cases, it is more than 50%. A similar provision for sacrifices needs to be extended the MSME to revive the potentially viable MSME units outside IBC purview. The lenders are aware that the market for the assets of stressed units is very poor. The recovery under the regulatory mechanism is unlikely to provide any substantial gain to the lenders. The contribution of revived MSME units to the economy is expected to be more than the amount of possible sacrifice made by the lenders.
MSMEs needs structured support to tide over financial support:
Many of the stressed MSMEs have the potential to turnaround. There are many regulatory and administrative guidelines from RBI and Govt to help these stressed MSMEs to overcome the challenge. However, these MSMEs require a very comprehensive framework that addresses their financial woes and helps to find a structured approach to cover the gamut of issues, something akin to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 without the need to through the process of Insolvency.
“Framework for Revival and Rehabilitation of MSMEs” – A better alternative:
Govt of India & RBI had implemented the above framework in the year 2016 (RBI/2015-16/338 FIDD.MSME & NFS.BC.No.21/06.02.31/2015-16 Dated March 17, 2016). The framework addresses the financial issues holistically and is capable to assist stressed MSMEs to recover the lost ground. The framework can help the stressed MSMEs to firmly anchor themselves to come out the challenges. The framework may be amended to make it versatile and become an anchorage to stressed MSMEs. Some of the amendment can be as below:
a) Add the provision of waivers/write-offs: If this framework is amended to discover the sustainable debt and thereafter setting a stage for resolution, this can be a quick and supportive avenue for stressed MSMEs to seek turnaround.
b) Extend a fresh round of finance especially working capital: Also these MSMEs are normally at the receiving end and unlikely to generate liquidity to support. Thus the working capital facility is paramount to make restructuring and turnaround support meaning full and constructive. To make it better it is desirable that the firms may be given another avenue of support in terms of extending an additional round of working capital finance to revive the business. Though the framework allows extending additional funding, it is not implemented and thus remains a bottleneck for revival.
c) New debt may be supported by CGTMSE: There is always an element of hesitation to extend fresh support for stressed firms. This requires explicit policy support to extend additional finance that may involve CGTSME.
d) Simplify its administration: Present guidelines seek to involve people from outside including Govt dept in the process of approving restructuring. Involving others may delay the process and resolution of stressed debts require timely intervention. Further having comprehensive framework backed by regulation and laws itself can create a conducive environment for enabling the arrival of a mutually understanding solution. Hence the participation may be limited to engagement between lender and borrower and/or their advisors without inviting outsiders can improve the speed of the process.
e) Allow the advisors to assist: Bank loan restructuring alone is not sufficient. The turnaround of stressed business requires more than delaying loan repayment. The turnaround of stressed business requires support from experts from fiancé, legal, and /or the subject matter. It is better to involve the experts to structure a resolution plan and enable speedy implementation.
Distress in MSMEs requires a more holistic approach to assist the stressed units to come out successfully. Instructions for standstill will not help. The present guidelines need to be reviewed and amended to support a speedy revival of the potential units and bring the buoyancy in the segment. Framework for Revival and Rehabilitation of MSMEs impended by the Govt with few amendments can be a robust platform to achieve that goal.
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