"ODOP Has Led To A Spurt In Exports": Navneet Sehgal, Principal Secretary, MSME & Export Promotion, Uttar Pradesh

MSMSEs in Uttar Pradesh are surging ahead on a buoyant note. With the highest number of MSME units in the country, Uttar Pradesh is a leading exporter of MSME products in categories like handicrafts, engineering goods, carpets, readymade garments and leather products, among others. In fact, total exports from the State grew by 28 per cent in the last one year. Navneet Sehgal, the principal secretary of the UP government in charge of MSMEs and export promotion, is steering the sector to help the State attain the big goal. A 1988-batch, IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Mr Sehgal has over three decades of rich administrative experience across major departments. In a wide-ranging interview with Amit Brahmabhatt, Mr Sehgal, a chartered accountant by training, talks about UP's progressive policies for MSMEs and the sector's rapid growth.

UP has seen phenomenal growth in MSME sector in the recent past. How could you make it possible?

It is due to the impactful policies adopted by the State government. Soon after taking charge, the present government, under the guidance of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and MSME Minister Siddharth Nath Singh accorded the highest importance to the sector, given that it is the biggest employment generator in the State after agriculture. The MSME Ministry has been working in close coordination and cooperation with other ministries and departments, including Khadi, Village and Coir Industries, to promote a vibrant MSME sector.

The goal of turning UP into a $1-trillion economy can be realised on the success of the MSME sector. How well are you geared up?

MSMEs will definitely play an important role in reaching the Chief Minister's $1-trillion economy target. We are also adopting the 4-P mantra of the prime minister, namely potential, policy, planning and performance. For example, the recently-launched ODOP programme is showing encouraging results. Under the ODOP programme, the government has linked 5 lakh youths to banks. A guarantee of employment on such a large scale is unprecedented. There has been a spurt in exports since the launch of this scheme. For instance, exports of Bhadohi carpets have doubled to Rs 8,000 crore in a year.

Would you throw light on the present MSME infrastructure in UP?

In recent years, the department has laid special focus in development of infrastructure for MSMEs. It is to be noted here that 987 sheds and 3,648 parts of land have been developed. Moreover, 175 Mini Industrial Estates - each of such estates has an average area of 2.5 acres - and 7,997 land parcels - each measuring between 50 and 200 sq metres - have been developed to promote small- and micro-scale industries at the rural, development block and Tehsil levels. The department is also making extra efforts to leverage on existing Central and State government schemes for development and upgrade of industrial areas.

Amid economic slowdown, what are your top priorities in reviving  MSMEs?

The department has identified five major areas for the holistic development of the sector. Easy availability of finance; better infrastructure; single-window clearances and fast disposal of cases; technical upgrade; and better connectivity to national and international markets are the top-five priorities to help boost the sector.

What efforts are on in developing skilled manpower?

The State's Budget for 2020-21 has allocated Rs 1,200 crore for the youth. The government has also planned to establish new training centres for skill development. Apart from this, the ODOP scheme has built capacity to train more than 26,000 people. Under the ODOP scheme, the department has signed an MoU with Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission to help in building skills of rural women, which will help in increased self-employment within the State. A diagnostic study report is being developed by professional agencies in each district. The report, along with hard interventions, explores the need for soft interventions, including capacity building of enterprise. With this baseline data, the department will develop a detailed action plan for the State.

Despite a flood of MSME-centric schemes, the sector still finds it difficult to access timely, low-cost funds. How is the situation in UP?

The department is addressing this issue by working in close coordination with various banks. The government is capitalising on all available funds of State and Central governments. For example, the department intends to provide Rs 150 crore as margin-money support to ODOP MSMEs for the current financial year. The ODOP Cell, which is the nodal body for the ODOP programme, has inked an MoU with Bank of Baroda to provide loans to artisans and ODOP MSMEs. Bank of Baroda will work on co-origination model and develop a portal on the lines of the portal that enables MSMEs to access public sector bank loans in 59 minutes.

How is the government helping local manufacturers in marketing?

The department is modernising District Industry and Enterprise Promotion Centres across the districts. It has also tied up with prominent e-commerce players, like Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba and others to provide a digital platform to MSMEs. The government is also setting up trade-facilitation centres in different parts of the State to promote trade. These centres are being handed over to the community in Varanasi and Bhadohi. The government has also approved several common facility centres, which also plan to develop marts for marketing. The department also facilitates MSME artisans and enterprises to participate in various exhibitions across the country and outside the country to exhibit and sell their products. These fairs have provided artisans and enterprises with a platform for developing their marketing networks.

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