Retail association seeks concessions to deal with continuing Covid-19 outbreak

NEW DELHI : The Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Thursday requested several concessions such as extending existing permits and licenses for retail establishments and shopping malls, exemption from property tax for the fiscal year current and the extension of the principal and interest moratorium for retailers, as the industry attempts to deal with the second wave of covid-induced lockdowns.

In a statement released Thursday, RAI said government authorities and financial institutions must help the retail industry minimize the economic impact of the second wave.

To this end, the industry body, which represents the interests of several large and small retailers, has requested a 12-month extension for the renewal of existing permits, licenses, certificates of non-objection (NOC); and authorizations, including store and establishment licenses, business licenses, food licenses, fire NOCs, signage licenses and others required by shopping malls, malls, retail stores, restaurants and pubs. In addition, he sought to relax compliance requirements for retailers to pay MSME suppliers within 45 days until March 2022.

His other demands include that the Indian government pay the employer and employee provident fund contribution (12% each) until September 2021 for all employees earning less than ₹15,000 per month, and 100% relief for owners and shopping centers in payment of property tax for the year 2021-2022. “Give power utilities the mandate to relinquish the minimum demand load for the period April 2021 to June 2021. Extend the benefits of ECLGS 3.0 to retail businesses.” interest for six months, ”RAI said in its memo.

Retail sales were down 50% in April 2021 from April 2019, the RAI said in its monthly industry assessment earlier this week.

Retailers have also called for vaccination of frontline staff, as stores selling essential items continue to operate.

“While it is imperative to prioritize the vaccination of last mile retail workers, it is equally important to ensure that the full cost of the shutdown is not borne by the company alone. We’ve already seen a lot of work happening in the industry by mall owners and landlords giving discounts to their retail tenants, and vendors giving extra credit or reducing the cost of their merchandise. We believe that the state government, the central government, the Reserve Bank of India and the banks should also help to ease the shock of the pandemic on businesses and the economy, ”said Kumar Rajagopalan, director General of the RAI.

Rajagopalan said such measures are necessary to revive the consumer economy.

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