Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the manufacturing sector has been affected the most due to the lockdown.

Minister’s remarks came during a video conference of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) E-conclave in Delhi as he said, “The defence sector is no exception to this. Rather, it can be said that the defence sector is more aggravated than other sectors as the only buyer of defence products is the government.”

He further told that the ministry has taken several steps for industries especially MSMEs to tackle the menace. “Steps such as an extension of response dates of RFP/RFI and early clearance of pending payments will help the industry,” he asserted.

“In this crisis, several financial support measures have been announced by the government and RBI to reduce the financial burden of the industries. These will provide some relief due to the availability of additional working capital and deferment in interest payments,” he said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for being ‘vocal for local’ in this direction. I would like to say that we have to have our indigenous products, but before that in our own life, ‘local’ has to be focal — we have to adopt ‘swadeshi’ products in our life. There is no doubt that MSMEs have a very important role in the goal of indigenous manufacturing, and in the goal of self-reliant India,” the minister said.

“Rs 10,000-crore ‘Fund of Funds’ will be set up to help increase the capacity of these units and for marketing,” the minister said.

The theme of the E-conclave was ‘Business Continuity for MSMEs in Defence and Aerospace Sector’ in which more than 800 defence MSMEs participated.

The conclave was jointly organized by Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Department of Defence Production.