The current lockdown restrictions across Maharashtra have cost business loss and economic stress to the small and micro retailers. Big and small non-essential shop owners across Maharashtra have appealed for shops to be permitted to stay open throughout the week.
At present shops in most of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, especially in Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar and Badlapur are not allowed to function. Only the essential commodity shops are allowed to open for a limited time.
Mehul Thorat, Vice President of The Confederation of All India Traders said, “Today, all the gold and silver traders, jewellers and goldsmiths in the country are following the rules by closing their businesses as per the government order due to the illness of COVID-19. However, during this period, the bread earners of many business families and in some places the entire family suffered due to the COVID pandemic. As a result, there is no outside support for these children and their families. There is no hope for the merchant’s family to get any aids from the government. From now on, the disease will continue to occur and the government has no plan for this and today it has become difficult for the trader’s family to survive. There is no plan to provide any relief to the members of the businessmen’s kith and kin in Maharashtra. These traders are the highest taxpayers, they contribute hugely to the state economy.”
Lalit Gandhi, Senior Vice President, Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, urged the Government of Maharashtra to allow full-time resumption of all trade from June 1st, as the lockdown restrictions in Maharashtra were lifted by then. He said, “The business is almost closed in all neighbouring states of Maharashtra, such loss is unreasonable. There is a lot of burden on traders and their families, survival has become tough.”
“Most of the shopkeepers in the state have been vaccinated and the rest of the traders should get vaccinated themselves and their employees as soon as possible,” Lalit Gandhi appealed to traders.
Mahesh Jevrani of Mahesh Jevrani Traders said, “If the lockdown continues in its present form, it is bound to kill more people because of unemployment. In no time we would hear about middle-class businessmen forced to commit suicide. Imposing restrictions on businesses, making it worse for the traders. If they really care for the small business traders, they should come up with relief funds as support.”
Sandeep Bhandari of SB group, which is a building material supplying company said, “State government has completely failed to deal with the corona epidemic and the present lockdown impositions on traders are absolutely wrong, for example, there is permission for construction work but building material supply for constructions is banned, isn’t this hilarious? It’s more than one and a half year since this lockdown ban on businesses has taken many lives due to irreparable loss in small businesses. These traders are overburdened with loans, they don’t have the income to address their basic needs. Many small businesses got shut and joblessness is another challenge, who should be responsible? Now even if we demand a package for small traders from the government, we know what has happened to the packages announced to auto-rickshaw pullers, the funds were announced on paper and it remained there.”
Mukesh Jangid a business analyst said, “Bigger unemployment numbers is a big stress and of course families who lost their bread earners have to struggle even after the lockdown or for years now. People are searching for new income sources as their previous sources are in danger and their financial plans have got a big dent after losing savings, and family members. As entrepreneurs, we always look for opportunities and come out strong. No doubt we are a fast-developing country but current conditions have opened the eyes of the system and we need to improve a lot of things. Let’s unite and work on getting ourselves back with stronger passionate mindsets.”
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that “The government is looking at the demands and suggestions of the traders seriously and soon we will come up with some solutions. The restrictions are not against anyone. While measures will be taken after considering their demands and suggestions seriously, the traders should work together with the government in the fight against the pandemic.”
Shweta Inamdar, owner of Readymade Matching Designer blouses shop in Thane says, “Due to Lockdown, we are facing huge losses and so we request the government to waive off all the electricity bills, wave off the rent to be paid and interest on EMI to be waived off. Uncertainty in business is leading to miserable future for traders.”
Vinayak Kumar, Secretary-General, FRAI told Afternoon Voice, “The effect will be across all sectors particularly for non-essential categories while grocery stores and medical stores may have some respite much like last year. If there is going to be a prolonged lockdown across the country then stores retailing non-essential goods and services will be reduced to zero revenue and would have to shut down.”
Rasik Chedda, Chairman, Ram Maruti Road Shopkeepers Association said, “Due to these restrictions on non-essential shops we cannot do business. We remained closed most of the time due to strict lockdown enforced here; it has had a deep impact on our business. Small business owners are struggling to pay shop rents and electricity, and there are no aids provided from government.”
“Clothes and apparel business was yet to recover to its pre-COVID revenue but with new restrictions in place, we are going through a total business loss already and if the lockdown extends beyond next week, then it would be just suicidal, “Kishan Jethva, a cloth and tailoring business owner in Goyal Market, Borivali told Afternoon Voice.
Tankush Zambad, Ex-President of Aurangabad Marathwada Chamber of Trade & Commerce, ECM, MACCIA says, “We demand to reopen all trade and businesses including hotels and restaurants industry from 1st June. Give relief in bank interest, GST return flexibility till 31st December. With an exemption in interest, give relief in property tax, local taxes and exemption in Profession tax. Implement Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Arogya Yojna to traders turn over up to 5 cores. Announce a special package to the family of the trade who lost their lives due to COVID-19.”
Ramanand who owns a grocery shop in Goregaon said, “When shops are permitted to open till 10 pm, it will be comfortable for both traders as well as the customers. Grocery shops should be allowed to open from 6 am to 10 pm. Otherwise, people rush to shops for items and it leads to a rush at shops as well.”