Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman may have announced all relief and reform measures as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package to tide over the coronavirus crisis, but a major segment of the economy – the retailers and the trading community — are feeling left out as no specific support came in for them.
“Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has expressed deep disappointment and resentment against the Government on behalf of the 7 crore traders of India who have been completely ignored while announcing the Economic package,” the traders’ body said in a statement.
Describing the government’s approach as a “step-motherly” treatment towards retail traders, the CAIT statement said: “Every trader is anguished and registers their protest today because they have been completely sidelined by the government while preparing the much awaited economic package.”
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that the organisation will seek immediate intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As per the traders’ body, the community will be landing into great financial crisis on lifting of lockdown as they will have to pay salary, interest, bank loans, taxes and various other financial obligations.
“It is expected that nearly 20 percent traders will have to wind up their business and another 10 percent traders dependent on these 20 percent traders will have to close their business,” the statement said.
Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI), said that the steps taken under the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ economic stimulus will help the country in the long term but the emergent issues facing the retail industry have not been addressed.
In a statement, he noted that retailers needed wage support, moratorium for payment of principal and interests and support in the form ofworking capital. These measures are critical to survive, Rajagopalan added.
“Even the relief measures offered to MSMEs by the government do not help retailers as retail is not covered under the MSME sector,” the RAI CEO said.
He said that retailers need working capital in their hands to retain employment as lack of support will result in closure of businesses, and jeopardise livelihoods and jobs of 4.6 crore employees in modern retail out of which 2 crore work in non-essential retail segment.
“With no income and zero support from the government, the industry doesn’t have the ability to support them. This will lead to a massive slowdown in consumption that will further harm the economy and the country,” Rajagopalan said.
Along with extension of the loan moratorium, the sector had sought support for employee wages and rent among other demands but these did not form part of the package.