Retailers Association of India (RAI) has sought several concessions such as extension on existing permits and licences of retail establishments and shopping centres, waiver on property tax for the current fiscal, and extension of moratorium on principal and interest for retailers, as the industry tries to deal with the second wave of covid-induced lockdowns.
In a statement, RAI said government authorities and financial institutions need to help the retail industry minimize the economic impact of the second wave.
The industry body that represents the interests of several small and large retailers, has asked for a 12-month extension for renewal of existing permits, licences, no-objection certificates (NOCs); and permissions including shops and establishments’ licences, trade licences, food licences, fire NOCs, signage licences and others required by malls, shopping centres, retail stores, restaurants, and pubs. Additionally, it has sought relaxation in compliance requirements of retailers to pay MSME suppliers in 45 days’ time till March 2022.
It also asks the government of India to pay the provident fund contribution of both employer and employee (12% each) till September 2021 for all employees earning less than Rs 15,000 per month, and 100% relief to landlords and malls in payment of property tax for the year 2021-22. “Mandate electric distribution companies to waive minimum demand charge for the period April 2021 to June 2021. Extend the benefits of ECLGS 3.0 to retail companies. Provide interest subvention to reduce the burden of interest, apart from asking banks to conducer a moratorium on principal and interest for six months,” RAI said in its note.
Retail sales were down by 50% in April 2021 compared with April 2019, RAI said in its monthly assessment on the sector. Retailers have also been seeking vaccination of front line staff as stores selling essential items continue to function.
“While it is imperative to get the last mile workers in retail vaccinated on priority, it is equally important to ensure that the entire cost of the shutdown is not borne by the business alone. We have already seen a lot of work happening within the industry by mall owners and landlords giving rebate to their retail tenants, and the suppliers giving additional credit period or bringing down the cost of their merchandise. We do believe that the state government, the central government, the Reserve Bank of India and the banks also have to chip in to soften the blow of the pandemic to businesses and the economy,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, chief executive officer, RAI.