The small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which have been badly hit by the economic slowdown, are pinning their hopes on the Union government to relax interest ratesin the annual general budget for 2013-14, among other special measures, to stimulate the ailing industry.

Several industry bodies here are hoping that the Union finance minister P Chidambaram will announce extraordinary measures to revive the SME sector. In their proposals to the finance minister ahead of the general budget, the SME leaders have called for urgent infusion of life into the sector.

The SME industry is bleeding currently. It requires special attention and care. We have sought (in the proposals) stimulus package for the industry along with relaxation in the policy rate,” said Suresh Sonthalia, senior functionary of the Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerceand Industry (FJCCI).

Amid reports of central government relenting to some of the key demands of the states for smooth paving of the much-talked about Goods and Services Tax (GST), the FJsaid the government should announce early dates for the implementation of the GST.

“If required, the government can dilute few of the proposed measures (in the Constitution Amendment Bill for GST) and introduce it at the earliest for uniform growth of the industry,” said Sonthalia.

The SME industry leaders feel that unless the government announces big ticket investment in the infrastructure development sector, there won’t be much relief to them.

“The SME sector is largely dependent on heavy industries that play a key role in the infrastructure development so we are looking forward to few big project (either public private partnership model or fully government controlled ones) announcements for our revival,” said Santosh Khetan, general secretar, Adityapur Small Industries Association (ASIA) .

In 2009, when the Indian economy was going through difficult times, the central government had announced several measures to provide an impetus to the industry.

Duty on export of iron ore fines was removed and levy on iron lump exports was brought down from from 15% to 5%, central VAT was reduced to 4%, in particular.

“Last time (in 2008-09) Union government extended a stimulus package of about USD 4billion to help the industry fight recession. We are expecting something on similar lines (in the 2013 budget),” said a functionary of Singhbhum Industries Association (SIA).