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GDP contraction poses existential threat to MSMEs: Crisil

Jun '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
A 5 per cent contraction in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2020-21 may lead to a 15 per cent fall in corporate India's revenues and poses an ‘existential threat’ to small businesses, according to a report by the research wing of domestic ratings agency Crisil. However, policy interventions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry offer little hope as those cannot revive demand, crucial for the small businesses, the report said.

The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector will have to face a sharper decline in revenues of up to 21 per cent, while operating profit margins will narrow to 4-5 per cent, a news agency reported citing the Crisil document.

Crisil expects a 5 per cent contraction in the economy because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"MSMEs face existential crisis, revenue to fall a fifth...a sharp decline at the operating level will also impact creditworthiness, aggravating the liquidity stretch these units have been grappling with, particularly on the working capital front," the report said.

It said there are gains to be made out of the lower commodity prices but the weak demand in the economy will ensure that the small business segment is unable to capitalise on those, it said.

The average interest service coverage ratio could slide to 1-1.5 times from 2.4 times seen between fiscals 2016-17 and 2019-20, even after factoring in the benefit of moratorium on interest payments announced by the RBI, it said, adding that without the moratorium, the ratio would have gone below one.

The hardest hit will be the micro enterprise segment, which accounts for 32 per cent of the overall MSME debt, and are facing material stress in terms of revenue growth, operating profit margins and working capital stretch, it said.

Drawing from precedents, it said previous downturns have shown that micro and small enterprises are unable to manage transient working capital challenges as easily as their large and medium peers.

The policy interventions from the RBI and the finance ministry will help them tide over tapered cash flows, it said adding that the biggest concern is demand that needs to be revived for the betterment of this crucial sector.

However, the report was not so optimistic on the policy interventions' ability to drive demand in the economy.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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