The Prime Minister’s announced an economic package for all sectors due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, the traders have been disappointed with the Finance Minister’s announcements. Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) spoke to BE’s Aritra Mitra regarding the economic stimulus package.
Q. What are the sectors that have completely unnoticed from the Prime Minister’s economic stimulus package?
A. The important sectors like retail trade, hospitality, travel agents and tour operators, event organisers, tent and decorators, restaurants, banquets, farm houses used for holding functions are some of the sectors which are a great source of employment. However, they have been badly ignored in this stimulus package.
Q. How do you think the initiatives announced for the MSMEs going to help the enterprises in this sector?
A. The schemes announced for the MSME sector might be beneficial for the enterprises under this segment. Though the government has tried to provide them assistance but it has to be seen whether banks and other lending agencies disburse the loan to MSME sector or not, since the banks have their own standard norms. On earlier occasions also, we have seen that government or Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made certain announcements for different sectors. Unfortunately, they could not be implemented because of the banks as banks are dependent on the decision of their management.
Q. Do you think that the package announced will bring liquidity into the country?
A. The overall package of `20 lakh crore if implemented in its true letter and spirit by the implementing agencies, I have no doubt that this huge sum will come to the market and will certainly increase the liquidity in the market.
Q. Do you think it would have been better if the government instead of focusing on the supply side, focused on increasing the purchasing power of the common people that will lead to increase in demand?
A. The present stimulus will arm many sectors with money and therefore will increase their purchasing power and in turn whenever it will be used, at every step the purchasing power will increase and so also the demand.
Q. At this stage, what do you expect from the government for compensation of the losses incurred by the traders over the period of the lock down?
A. If one analyse the announcements regarding the economic package, one will find that the traders in the country have been totally left out in the current scenario when they direly need the support of the government. The traders have to face a great financial crunch since they will already be having much financial load of paying salary to employees, rents, interest on loans taken from Banks and other sources, payment of ESI, Provident Fund, fixed electricity charges, payment of GST, Income Tax, Property tax and several other financial obligations. Therefore, the government should provide a substantial package by waiving the interest for the lock down period, granting a Corona Finance loan through Banks with 3% rate of interest and the first instalment should began from January,2021 and the said can is paid in 60 equal monthly instalments. The government should also provide financial support in matters of paying salary to the staff, fixed electricity charges for the lockdown period should be waived off and provide other means which will ease the financial requirements of the traders.