CHAMPIONS Portal

The COVID-19 Impact & CHAMPIONS Portal

CHAMPIONS Portal – With the entire world coming to a standstill courtesy of a raging pandemic, a plethora of other issues have also come to the forefront courtesy of the measures taken to combat the same. The economic issues especially are incomparable with any other.

The International Monetary Fund has hinted at an unprecedented 3% dip in the global economy[1], which is nothing short of a death knell to the developing economies. As we are aware, India’s economy falls under the ‘developing economy’ tag too. A huge chunk of the industries falls under the category of micro, small, and medium enterprises, i.e. the MSME sector.

Undoubtedly, this sector has been the hardest hit in the recent past. The first slack phase was because of the raw material shortage and supply chain disruption with India MSMEs meeting more than half of their demand from the People’s Republic of China, the epicentre of COVID-19. Following this on the 25th of March, India’s lockdown to combat the COVID-19 onslaught began and this more or less pushed the sector to a valley of despair with hopes of revival becoming distant. According to a report published by the All India Manufactures Association, it is estimated that a staggering 35% of the MSME sector industries are shutting stop and eyeing for a closure with no other alternative left[2].

What exactly is CHAMPIONS Portal?

It is at this bleak scenario, the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a branch of the Government of India, ahs come out with its flagship CHAMPIONS portal as a desperate measure to support the stressed-out sector. CHAMPIONS is abbreviated as Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength.

Hon’ble. Prime Minister of India took it to Twitter on the 1st of June 2020 to announce the launch of the same and was quoted saying “This is a one stop place for MSME sector. The focus areas are support & hand-holding, grievance redressal, harnessing entrepreneurial talent and discovering new business opportunities.” What exactly is the CHAMPIONS portal? The objectives of the portal? How is it any different from the already existing services? Let us briefly analyse the aforementioned questions.

Brief Developments to the same:

The launch of the portal was the last step in a series of developments that took place over the past 10 days regarding the post COVID future of the sector. After rounds of discussions and deliberations, the Cabinet approved for the revision of the definition of MSME.

This was again subject to criticism and saw a further upward revision where the centre set the cap at ₹250 crores of turnover and ₹50 crores of investment for all medium enterprise industries[3].

Apart from this a total of ₹70,000 (20,000 + 50,000) crores was approved by the centre to help out the stressed MSMEs through active equity support and equity infusion, respectively[4]. The newly launched CHAMPIONS portal has its tagline as ‘Our small hands to make you large’

Unified Grievance Redressal System:

The portal identifies through its objectives, identifies itself as a one stop portal for the MSME sector to address their woes, financial, framework, intellectual, whatsoever it may be. The platform is expected to unify the whole MSME sector to ensure better co-ordination and co-operation over all stages and regions. Grievance redressal is one aspect which is expected to have significant developments and efficiency courtesy of the network of control rooms created based on Hub and Spoke Model.

One hub at Delhi and close to sixty-six state offices have been created and dedicated to deal with addressing of complaints. A standard operating procedure has been provided to the teams to effectively manage and address the complaints received from the lengths and breadths of our nation. Furthermore, complaints received on the CPGRAMS, Ministry of MSME portal, so on and forth will be forwarded to the CHAMPIONS Portal.

This unified grievance addressal mechanism is expected to bring in the systematic organization that the current individual addressal systems lack. With the hub and spoke model, dedicated offices will help in increased direct involvement and will also boost the accountability factor.

Gateway to new Sectors:

Creating new opportunities is another ambit where the CHAMPIONS portal is expected to have a huge role to play. With COVID-19, global markets have seen a drastic change in trend. Certain markets such as the health sector for instance has been flourishing, making its steady gains from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, personal protection equipment (PPE), face masks, drug manufacture & supply, medical equipment manufacturing industries have been seeing a never before surge with the demand multiple folds higher than the current supply capacity The portal has resorted to encouraging smaller units to take up manufacturing in this sector.

To facilitate the same, a dedicated inquiry portal has been set up within the primary portal to seek valuable information regarding the manufacturing of ‘COVID-19 related products’ used in the combat against coronavirus[5].

Also, a separate notification[6] was issued by Mr. A.K. Sharma, Secretary of MSME, highlighting and conveying this idea to the small-scale manufacturers and industrialists. He further vouched for any support in the process. Having said this, two notifications released by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade[7] and Department of Expenditure[8] are of key importance.

The former nullified an earlier notification issued on 31.01.2020 which had placed a total ban on the export of masks of all types. The ban is now limited only to surgical masks. The latter notification issued by the  Department of Expenditure aims at relaxing the Global Tender Enquiry Policy in an attempt to make life easy for the MSMEs that aim to procure raw material from abroad.

This also relaxed the e-procurement rules under the General Financial Rules, 2017[9]. Thus, on a whole these amendments and announcements under the portal will harness the gap between the demand and supply curve by creating new opportunities in this sector and thus bail the MSMEs out of distress.

Identifying Potential Industry Leaders:

Last but not the least, the CHAMPIONS portal is expected to perform the vital role of identifying potential enterprises and establishments that have survived this dormant phase and seeks to push them to the national and international levels by providing them with structural and intellectual support.

This is indeed an innovative move as the same would help in identifying and analysing the action plans of these enterprises besides helping them achieve the global reach. These action plans would prove to be nothing less than gold dust, should we encounter another emergency of this unparalleled nature. Thus, these are some of the many benefits that the MSMEs can hope to receive from the portal in the coming days.

Conclusion:

On an endnote, for a new initiative, the CHAMPIONS portal seems to have all the necessary policy ideas to make it a grand success at the biggest level. However, the overall efficiency of the portal and the schemes proposed under the same would depend a lot on the co-ordination and co-operation between different governmental sectors. The sole idea and functioning ought to be focused on one aspect, ‘optimal implementation’.


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