Pay government bills to MSMEs first

MUMBAI: Former finance minister P Chidambaram took a potshot at two current Union ministers on social media platform, Twitter, asking the government to first pay its own outstanding bills to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which have been severely impacted by the most stringent lockdown in the world.

“Minister Gadkari (Union minister for MSMEs) says that governments and PSUs owe 5 lakh crore as unpaid dues to MSMEs,” the tweet read. “Minister Sitharaman (Union finance minister) says she will offer collateral free loan of 3 lakh crore to MSMEs (around 45 lakhs). So, who is the lender and who is the borrower?!,” Chidambaram said in his first tweet.

“Will the two ministers ‘settle their accounts’ first and let MSMEs save themselves without the government’s ‘help’?,” the second tweet read.

In a TV channel interview on Thursday, Gadkari had said state governments, major industries and other agencies owe about 5 lakh crore to MSMEs across the country. Many of these are payments pending by government ministries, departments or public-sector units. The government has asked state-owned companies to prioritise payment to MSME vendors.

In her announcements on Thursday, Sitharaman said all unpaid dues to the sector will be cleared within 45 days, though she did not clarify the extent of the government’s dues to the sector.

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