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NEW DELHI : With the third wave of covid wreaking havoc on small businesses, Vineet Agarwal, president, Assocham, said the government must provide more liquidity support to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to help them survive the pandemic, besides other measures.

Agarwal said that measures such as the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme must continue for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as they were the most affected sector. “The focus also needs to move to smaller businesses, which need a lot more support. If the government continues with its focus on them I think we will see good results."

Commenting on his expectations from the Union budget for FY23, Agarwal said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to continue to focus on infrastructure, as it has a multiplier effect on the economy.

The government must also spend more on education and health. “Health expenditure, as percentage of gross domestic product is still quite low, and that needs to keep increasing, especially on the primary healthcare centres, which are in rural, tier-III and -IV cities."

The last budget brought in a lot of transparency in terms of fiscal deficit and growth numbers and expenditure estimates, he said. During the pandemic, consumption demand has been healthy and merchandise-related growth has been decent, however, capacity expansion has not taken place to the required extent, Agrwal added.

Furthermore, government schemes offering income support, such as PM KISAN and MGNREGA, need to continue given the job and wage losses amid the pandemic, he said.

He said major growth was witnessed in terms of formalization of the economy with the rollout of e-way bills, e-invoicing and GST, among others, which resulted in ease of doing business.

Assocham has also urged the Centre to help resolve disputes in telecom, power and mining, among other sectors, in line with the direct tax dispute resolution scheme ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’. “These sectors typically have a very long gestation, 10–15 years and have a lot of other issues. If these can be resolved, it will unlock a lot of value for the economy. We have also proposed a similar scheme for customs-related disputes," Agarwal said.

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