THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government is likely to seek a $350-million loan from the World Bank to tide over the crisis in the industrial sector because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The next week’s state cabinet meeting will take a final call on the matter. Asked about the special package, Principal Secretary, Industries, K Elangovan said the industries department is working on the special package which would be announced in a couple of days.
The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, which is the backbone of the industrial economy of the state as it is over 1.30 lakh units provide employment to over 40 lakh people, will get a special package of around Rs 3,425 crore. Further, the state government will approach the Centre seeking grants to uplift the state’s various sagging industrial sectors.
For instance, more than 18,000 units of agro-food processing units which form a major part of the MSME sector and provide employment to 85,000 people have suffered a cumulative loss of Rs 406.86 crore, though the sector has been exempted from the lockdown. To revive the sector, the state would seek an assistance of Rs 500 crore from the Centre.
Similarly, the PSUs in the chemical engineering sector suffered a total loss of Rs 120 crore during the lockdown period. The state government would seek a Rs 120-crore grant or interest-free loan to overcome this. The state government would also seek Rs 100 crore in assistance for providing financial support to the various traditional sectors such as handloom, khadi, handicraft and bamboo in the state which provide employment to around one lakh people.
The special package to be announced by the state will be based on the response from the Centre and assurance from the World Bank. The package will have measures to provide soft loans to various stakeholders providing the working capital to revive the units in the respective sectors and waive various charges such as land lease fees and deferment of electricity bill payment for a brief period.