Adjusting business plans can ensure entrepreneurs navigate risks and profit from a new relief programme
on 12 May 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a special economic package of ₹20 trillion (US$265.7 billion), aiming to revive the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector, which are the backbone of the Indian economy, yet worst-affected by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. The salient measures announced in the economic package include the following:
New definition of MSMEs: In order to benefit more companies, the definition of MSMEs has been revised by raising the investment limit, introducing an additional criterion of turnover, and removing the distinction between the manufacturing and service sectors, as follows:
Collateral-free loans. To provide additional funding for MSMEs to meet operational liabilities, raw materials and restarting business, the economic package has provisioned for ₹3 trillion worth of collateral-free automatic loans.
Businesses with up to ₹250 million outstanding and ₹1 billion turnover are eligible to borrow under this scheme until 31 October 2020 from banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) up to specified limits, without providing any fresh collateral or paying any guarantee fee. Such loans can have a maximum tenor of four years with a moratorium of 12 months on principal repayment, and interest will be capped. The government of India will provide 100% credit guarantee cover to the lending banks and NBFCs on principal and interest in respect of all such loans.
Subordinate debt. To provide equity support for MSMEs that have been classified as non-performing assets, or that are stressed, the government will facilitate provision of ₹200 billion as subordinate debt. The promoters are required to infuse such debt as equity in their respective MSMEs. The government will provide support of ₹40 billion to the credit guarantee trust for micro and small enterprises (CGTMSE) to enable it to furnish partial guarantee support to banks extending such credit to promoters of MSMEs.
Equity infusion through fund of funds. To help MSMEs expand, a fund of funds (FoF) with corpus of ₹100 billion will be established. The FoF will be operated through a mother fund and a few daughter funds (which would typically be alternative investment funds registered on the Securities and Exchange Board of India). Expected leverage of 1:4 at the level of daughter funds will lead to mobilization of equity of ₹500 billion. MSMEs will also be encouraged to get listed on the main board of the stock exchanges.
Global tenders disallowed. The government has disallowed global tenders for government procurement of goods and services worth less than ₹2 billion. This is in addition to the existing mandate that every central government ministry, department and public sector undertaking of the government must procure at least 25% of its total annual purchases from MSMEs. Chinese companies might require more partnerships with Indian companies to participate in certain government procurement tenders that were earlier open to direct participation by foreign companies.
Company Law reforms. Violations under the Indian Companies Act, 2013, involving minor technical and procedural defaults (including those like shortcomings in corporate social responsibility reporting, inadequacies in board reports, filing defaults, and delays in holding annual general meetings) will be decriminalized. Such non-compliances can be rectified by payment of fines and penalties. In addition, there is a proposal to levy lower penalties for all defaults committed by small companies, one-person companies, producer companies and start-ups. This is a good opportunity for subsidiaries of Chinese companies in India to clean up their compliance track record.
Insolvency reforms. The minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings against an Indian company is proposed to be raised from the existing ₹100,000 to ₹10 million. The government has also proposed to suspended fresh initiation of insolvency proceedings for a period of one year. The government has also been empowered to exclude covid-19-related debt from the definition of “default” under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code for the purpose of triggering insolvency proceedings. This means Chinese companies will need to pay more attention to the financial situation of their Indian customers, since they cannot initiate insolvency proceedings for non-payment of debts.
In the next few years, the Indian economy will undergo a significant transformation as a result of these measures. Chinese companies that modify their business plans appropriately will be able to navigate risks related to the covid-19 pandemic in an effective manner, and take advantage of the Indian government’s economic stimulus package.
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