The Union government will start an e-commerce platform on the lines of “Amazon and Alibaba" to sell products from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

MSME minister Nitin Gadkari informed the Lok Sabha on Thursday, a day before the Union budget is presented, that his ministry is in the process of launching the online platform to popularize and give market access to such products.

Responding to a question from lawmaker Chandan Singh of the Lok Janshakti Party during Question Hour, Gadkari said he is serious about promoting the MSME sector globally.

Amazon in the US and Alibaba in China did a world of good to their MSME sector, Gadkari said. “On those lines, for MSME and Khadi Gramudyog, we are going to launch a big marketing site. The preparations have started and a lot of people and industries will have access to it," Gadkari said.

The MSME sector is a big driver of India’s manufacturing sector and plays a key role in generating jobs. Yet, the sale of products produced by MSME companies suffer due to lack of funds and marketing skills.

The move to set up the online platform is, therefore, crucial as it could build awareness and expand the global reach for products made by small enterprises in India.

Growth in the MSME sector has the potential to bump up the country’s economy and create more formal jobs.

Gadkari said his effort would be to create 50 million new jobs through the sector.

“Targets should be big…our target is that in the next five years, we will contribute 50% to India’s gross domestic product (GDP), and we will give employment to 5 crore (more) people," Gadkari said.

His comments drew reaction from the opposition benches with members saying there was a lot of difference between words and actions.

“You know that everything I have said has been done. If it does not happen, then you can come back and question me. But since I am announcing it, this target too will be achieved like roads," he said.

There are 63.38 million unincorporated non-farm MSMEs in the country engaged in different economic activities, including 19.66 million in manufacturing and 23 million in trade activities, according to data from the MSME ministry. The sector employs more than 49.77 million people.

Unless the MSME sector is given a good push, India cannot create enough jobs. The demand-supply mismatch in employment can only be taken care of by small and medium businesses, as they are growth-oriented, said Kamal Karanth, co-founder of staffing firm Xpheno Pvt. Ltd.

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