New Delhi, April 1 The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Wednesday said that a significant portion of traders in the country will be forced to go out of business due to the ongoing lockdown if the government does not come up with a stimulus package.
The traders' body said that more than 6.5 crore traders have completely downed their shutters in view of the national lockdown and have absolutely no means of revenue and will remain without income for a longer period.
"The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) while analysing the current situation of lockdown in the country said that without a foolproof rearguard stimulus from the government to tackle the miseries arising out of this unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown, a significant portion of Indian traders will face a quite tough time and due to financial crunch will die a natural death," CAIT said in a statement.
CAIT National President B.C.Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that out of the seven crore small medium and large traders in India, about one crore establishments are engaged in business activities pertaining to essential goods and out of this lot only about 20-25 per cent are able to serve the country by conducting their business activities.
"Without worrying about their lives and the safety of their own families, India's local kirana stores have shown tremendous resolve and determination to stand with the nation in these difficult times. In every crisis over the last several decades the traders of India have stood firm in solidarity and the CAIT salutes such true warriors of the corona crisis," the statement said.
Even though the government has announced certain measures like deferment of various regulatory compliances and deferment of loan instalments among others and these measures will ease out some working capital pressure in the short term, without a proper stimulus package, these measures will be highly insufficient, it said.
The CAIT has urged the government to intervene and provide for certain specific demands which include waiver of bank interest charges for the effective lockdown period on all kinds of loans, deferment of all tax payments for three months to ease working capital and liquidity, capping of rental to 25-35 per cent so that both landlord and tenant can survive the tough period, reductions in salary burden for the lockdown period.
"The government has issued directive to pay full salaries to employees whereas the small trader is having to bear all his regular expenses without any relief. We have requested the government to prepare a formula where a certain percentage of salaries can be paid so that the employee and the trader both can survive," it said.
The CAIT has further urged that application of a condition of force majeure is required to be put on ports, railways and other placed to cover the risk of goods already landed and are subject to huge demurrage.
All government payments to traders and others should be maintained made as per the 45-day norm. The refunds of traders under GST and Income Tax should be given immediately which may be a financial breather for the traders.
The CAIT has also proposed that the government provide the wholesalers and retailers and their employees dealing in essential products with Rs 50 lakh health insurance in tune with the announcement made for the medical fraternity of the country as they are also corona warriors
"If the government fails to act now, we might soon have to write the epitaph of India's promising retail sector," the CAIT statement said.
( With inputs from IANS )