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MSME sector must work to double exports by 2021: Mitra

Kolkata, Sep12(UNI) West Bengal Finance Minister Dr Amar Kumar Mitra today called upon the MSME sector in the state to work towards doubling the exports by 2021.
"In 2016-17 our export was worth US $8.23 billion and in 2017-18 it reached US $ 9.15 billion, which is an increase of 11 per cent. We want to double this figure by 2021," he said, addressing a gathering at the Bengal Chambers here.
He, however, expressed his concern over the widening Current Account Deficit, which was 2.5 per cent of the GDP and the highest in the last five years."MSMEs are the most dynamic importers of our state," he said and added that the current economic condition wasn't favourable for the sector.
Dr Mitra said the MSMEs had the biggest potential to create jobs as the sector was performing well. Quoting a recent study, Dr Mitra said 54 per cent jobs in West Bengal were old jobs, 34 per cent jobs were restructured jobs and only 9 per cent jobs were new jobs.
"The internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data, for which we have openened Silicon Valley hub, has potential for only 9 per cent jobs, whereas the major chunk, the 54 per cent and the 34 per cent are from the MSME sector," he said.
Dr Mitra said his government had created a new SLBC sub-committe to ease the lending constraints in the sector and was aiming to achieve higher lending target. "In 2017-18 the banks had lent Rs 44,000 crores to MSMEs against the target of Rs 30,000 crores given to SLBC," he said. "For the current financial year the target had been set at Rs 50,000 crore, he said, and the initial data of the first quarter has indicated that the target could be achieved," he added.
He said there was need for the MSMEs to upscale in order to meet the increased demands, and asked the chamber to develop strategy for it.
However, he said, the MSMEs were suffering due to non-refund of GST returns. "It is the MSME sector which is the worst hit. Despite our efforts to boost the sector, the delay in GST returns is blocking the working capital and hampering growth."
He said, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had supported the implementation of GST back in 2009 for the benefit of MSMEs as it replaced multiple taxes with a single tax. Accusing the Centre for implementing the tax without trials, he said the 'premature implementation' of GST had put the entire system in a mess. "I had said very strongly publicly to do pilot projects and see how it is working, like the rest of the world has done. But, they(Centre) were in a hurry to launch."
The minister said the government had opened up centres and camps to help MSMEs handle the 'premature launch' of GST in order to provide support and eliminate confusion.
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