Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today that the Central Government is working on a health insurance model for the poor, so that they do not have to bear the high cost of medical care.
After giving away the National Awards for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Singh said as a first step towards extending social security to workers in the micro and small enterprises (SMEs) sector, the Government will provide an old age pension to all citizens above the age of 65 and those living below the poverty line.
Besides this, he said the government will also provide a life and disability cover to one earning member in each family so that they and their families can get over the consequences of injury or death.
Besides the setting up of the National Mission on Vocational Education and Skill Development, he said the Government plans to fund more polytechnics and ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) to address the growing demand of skilled manpower of our enterprises.
Singh urged banks and financial institutions to come forward and support SMEs, especially through risk and venture capital support.
He said from the point of view of people's livelihood, the SME sector is of tremendous importance.
"Micro and small enterprises provide employment to almost 41 million people in our country. Including the handloom and handicraft sector, the total employment provided by them is over 60 million," he said.
Singh said the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council has recognised the SMEs' ability to be globally competitive and has come forward with new ideas to further enhance the competitiveness of this vital sector.
"The fact that SMEs have done well in terms of their share of exports shows that we have a globally competitive sector," he said.
Singh invited suggestions on how we can spread industrialisation across the country and encourage new enterprises.
"I invite all enterprises in this sector to pay greater attention to quality, reduction of cost and to the welfare of their employees and workers. International experience shows that it is possible for SMEs to remain globally competitive even in an increasingly integrated global market," he said.