New Delhi: Government said on 30 August it is working on a scheme to provide health insurance to the poor, besides offering life and disability cover to one earning member of each economically weaker family.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said these measures along with old age pension to all citizens above 65 years and living below the poverty line would help the poor cope up with distressed times.
“Through these initiatives, we intend to ensure a minimum level of social safety for all of them (poor families),” Singh said after giving away national awards for micro, small and medium enterprises, instituted by the government.
He said the health insurance model would help the poor bear the high cost of medical care while the life and disability cover would enable them to “get over the consequences of injury or death”.
Underscoring the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in providing employment to over 60 million people, the Prime Minister said the government will fund polytechnics and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to address the demand of skilled manpower.
He said the government hopes to double credit flow to the SME sector in five years.
The Prime Minister asked the banks and financial institutions to support these enterprises, especially through risk and venture capital.
The government has already set up a Credit Guarantee Fund to provide relief to the small units who are unable to pledge collateral securities.
The Prime Minister said his government is open to new ideas on how industrialisation can be spread across the country and encourage new enterprises in the SME sector.
“I invite all enterprises in this sector to pay greater attention to quality, reduction of cost and to the welfare of your employees and workers...I affirm our government’s commitment to their growth and progress in years to come,” he said.
International experience shows it is possible for SMEs to remain competitive even in an increasingly integrated global market, Singh said.
“I do believe that SMEs have demonstrated their ability to be globally competitive. The National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council has also recognised this fact and has come forward with new ideas to further enhance the competitiveness of the sector,” he said.
The fact that SMEs have done well in terms of their share in exports shows that it is a globally competitive sector, the Singh said.
He expressed hope that a statutory Board for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, set up by the government, would guide policy and help enterprises become more competitive and efficient.
Small Scale Industries Minister Mahavir Prasad said steps by the government have increased the credibility of micro, small and medium enterprises at the global level.