The Central government has finally announced a policy
reserving 20 per cent of its purchases for micro and small enterprises run
by entrepreneurs belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
The new procurement policy will cover 358 items to be purchased
by Central ministries, departments and public sector undertakings. The 20 per
cent purchase norm will become mandatory after three years.
The corporate sector has developed affirmative action policies
on a voluntary basis and adopted a code of conduct; entrepreneurship development
is one of the components of this policy. Associations of industries have
recognised the role of market support for success in integrating marginalised
communities in mainstream industry.
CII, Assocham, and FICCI, whose membership runs into thousands
of companies, are way behind in accepting the market support policy in purchases
from SC and ST vendors.
The government’s initiative on procurement, if accepted by the
private sector on a wider scale, has the potential to make growth pro-poor and