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NEW DELHI: Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said the government will consider relief measures for the beauty and wellness industry to help it tide over the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Gadkari was speaking at a webinar with a group of beauty and wellness industry representatives who gave a presentation to the minister over the issues faced by them.

The presentation highlighted that around 70 lakh jobs of skill-based professionals, mostly hailing from weaker sections of the society, are at stake. The Indian beauty and wellness industry comprises businesses such as beauty parlours, barber shops, salons and spas, clinics and academic institutions. Two out of three employees in the industry are women or migrant workers making this segment even more vulnerable.

Noting that human resource cost comprise minimum 40% of the revenue in this industry, the representative urged the minister to look into relaxation and relief measures. They urged the government to cover minimum wages for six months to help enterprises cover 50% of talent costs

Among key relief measures that the industry sought included health cover for employees up to 5 lakh and life cover up to 25 lakh. They urged the ministry to ease lockdown norms for the beauty and wellness enterprises and assured that the businesses will strictly follow norms framed by Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council in association with AIIMS.

It also urged the government to remove the cap of 100 employees in an organisation and enhance 15,000 limit for reimbursement of provident fund because in metros the minimum wage crosses this mark.

With businesses closed for more than four weeks, the beauty and wellness industry is also in the dire need of liquidity to survive. The liquidity crunch can be solved by enhancing working capital/overdraft limits and collateral free loans from SIDBI and MSME should be provided to businesses on softer rates.

The representatives also sought auto renewal of licences for 12 months and extension of GST payment for 12 months.

“We suspect that the business will struggle for next one year with decreased customer flow and same operational cost even after the lockdown is lifted and business resumes. Therefore, these measures are the need of hour, “ they said.

Gadkari said the labour ministry’s scheme for provident fund contribution has been recommended for the wellness sector as well.

He suggested that all salons undergo MSME registration to claim benefits and added that big players in the sector should open skill development centres which will further increase employment.

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