‘Exhibitions are huge economy boosters’ : Nitin Gadkari – Urges IEIA to submit a proposal for conducting safe exhibitions
19 May 2020: ‘Exhibitions are huge economy boosters’ said Nitin Gadkari, Minister of MSME, Road Transport & Highways, during a virtual interaction on May 15, 2020 with top Indian Exhibition Industry captains. The e-meeting was organised by IEIA (Indian Exhibition Industry Association) with an intention to highlight various challenges being faced by the Exhibitions Industry.
The e-interaction was attended by industry captains from all over India. The session was moderated by Bhupinder Singh, Hon. Secretary, IEIA and CEO of Messe Muenchen India. Other panelists included S. Balasubramanian President, IEIA and EDIMTMA & COO, BIEC; Ravi Boratkar, MD, Asian Conventions & Expositions Pvt. Ltd. & President, MEDC; and V. Anbu, DG, IMTMA & CEO, BIEC and Incoming President UFI; and Rakesh Kumar, DG, EPCH & Chairman, IEML and Past President, IEIA.
In his address Nitin Gadkari stated: “With the recent expansion and change in the definition of ‘MSME’, I am sure majority of the stakeholders of the exhibitions sector will be benefitted by coming in the purview of MSME. Exhibitions are surely important economy boosters and cities like Frankfurt are big examples of how the whole economy of the city revolves around exhibitions conducted there. India should also have more purpose built exhibition and convention centres in small tier II cities where co-located shows could be held, which will give a big momentum to the country’s economic growth.”
The Minister urged IEIA to submit a proposal for conducting safe exhibitions considering all important safety measures and adequate distancing during the show times, which may be considered by the Government. He also invited all eligible enterprises to get themselves registered under MSME so as to get the benefits of the recent COVID relief package announced by the Govt. of India.
Earlier in his welcome note, Bhupinder Singh thanked the minister for the recent move to enhance MSME definition and assured that exhibitions industry would make efforts to get registered under the modified scheme. Singh also highlighted the fact that ‘Exhibitions’ should not be considered as normal mass gatherings, but should be given the status of structured and organised gatherings.
During the session, S. Balasubramanian, emphasised on the sufferings and loss incurred by the sector due to COVID 19 and stated that, “Exhibitions should be allowed to take off soon as it is a major revenue generator for the country. IEIA has prepared the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for conducting exhibitions in a safe manner and request adoption of the same by Govt. of India.” He also urged the Govt. to provide ‘Industry’ status to the exhibitions domain as it is a potent catalyst for the economy.
While hearing the demands of the Association, the Minister advised the exhibition industry to come up with appropriate guidelines and protocols that would align with the current time and promulgate the art of living with Coronavirus. He assured that he would forward the request to Ministry of Home Affairs for re-opening of exhibitions in a safe environment. He also mentioned that exhibitions can surely be recognised under the ‘Service providers’ cluster of the Ministry of MSME and his office will consider creating a separate category for the exhibition sector for registrations under MSME.
During the discussions, Gadkari positively acknowledged IEIA’s request for allowing collateral free loans for the sector to meet the working capital requirements towards meeting the staff salaries, fixed expenses etc. in this crisis time. He stated that the exhibitions sector will be allowed to take such collateral free loans without levying of any fee and the stakeholders can avail 20% additional collateral free loan on the existing working capital of the respective organisations.
The Minister also invited the office bearers of IEIA to bring a delegation to the Ministry of MSME once the lockdown gets over for further discussions, and assured full support for uplifting the sector under the purview of MSME Ministry.