Lalit Gandhi, the Senior Vice President, Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture expressed his concern for business groups and traders of Maharashtra. He wants the government to support them with basic facilities like waiving off interest on loans, paying business rents and also electricity bills. He wants trades of Maharashtra to breathe and not to succumb to the lockdown losses.
In conversation with our Editor-in-Chief Dr Vaidehi Taman, he expresses his concerns over various challenges that businesses are facing today.
Why the government has imposed the restrictions on non-essential shops?
To restrict contracts in the community but partial restrictions – like essential shops, Vegetable markets open and some segment closed is a very irrational and illogical decision.
How has this lockdown affected all business and traders?
To keep shops closed for almost 2 months has a suicidal impact on many traders, bank interest, shop rent, staff salary, tax everything in on but shops are closed, this vanished more than 25 per cent shopkeepers.
Non-essential shops were shut for a long time; will this not affect the economy of the state?
The state of Maharashtra lost business of 70,000 crores in this second lockdown, the state economy badly affected for the long term many businesses diverted in the neighbouring states.
Are you happy with the new curbs imposed by the state government on non-essential shops?
No, scientific base to keep some sectors open and some segments shut down. No convincing reason that the government has given for such closures.
Is there any demand for takeaway, parcel or home delivery services for non-essential shops?
It was in the initial stage and now we want to open our shops but we can’t sustain further. We will open our shops on 1st June and will follow all covid protocol.
Who will bear the losses incurred due to lockdown?
The trader is the only segment that doesn’t get any support from anyone. During last, one year more than 25 per cent rental shops have permanently closed down.
Since many people have migrated from Mumbai and Maharashtra, is there any labour crunch?
Yes, there is a labour crunch. Particularly in construction, foundries and other MSME segments due to migration.
Who is taking care of the traders in distress?
Being an Apex body, Confederation and Maharashtra Chamber Regularly Counselling Traders to keep them alive morally.
We came across news that many traders committed suicide due to no business and the burden of business loan, is this true?
Yes, till now many trades committed suicide for financial issues, we have official information 7 traders suicides the figure is much more than the announced one, 50 plus traders have died since last year.
When can the government announce total relaxations?
We expect immediately they should announce relaxation, at least permission to open shops immediately and lift total relaxation by 30 June.
What are the challenges to small-time traders and big business houses?
Big business houses suffered losses due to a break in the supply chain, problem in recovering due to payments from retailers.
How are you planning to recover the losses and help traders in stress?
We are advised daily to set packages from the central as well as state government. Giving Morally boost through various seminars, trying to keep their morale high but this will not work for a long time. It’s high time that they should be given some relief packages.
What kind of help do you expect from the government?
Immediately financial package – covering waiver of property tax, waiver of bank interest, waiver of shop rent (owned by Municipal corporation), extension for tax payment.
What is your message to the government?
Don’t ignore traders of the state, they are the backbones of employment and economy. They are the ones who are providing the highest employment to unskilled segments.
What would you like to tell the people of India?
Follow Covid protocols. Make all your purchases from local traders. Avoid online shopping from multinational portals.