The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the livelihood of people like a wrecking ball, forcing many businesses to shut down their operations. Struggling to stay afloat for more than a year, the traders of Maharashtra are now looking for an aid from the Modi led government to ensure their survival.
“Due to the pandemic and frequent lockdowns, most of the traders have suffered huge losses since the past 15 months. Unfortunately, the relief measures declared by the Central Government were never granted to traders as they have not been recognised and registered under SMEs & MSMEs in spite of their eligibility. Traders have paid all their taxes, rent, bank EMIs, Bank Interest, salary to staff, education fees, personal as well as their staff’s medical expenses and so on, in spite of their shops closed, source of revenue inaccessible and them not being in a position to carry this burden but cooperated keeping health as priority and service to nation and society,” Traders’ United Forum of Maharashtra (TUFOM) said in the letter.
The Traders’ union also mentioned the high risks taken by the traders who are engaged in the operations of essential goods and highlighted that the services are being provided without getting any protection by government insurance schemes like other front-line warriors.
Furthermore, they stated that many of the states governments are using different term on paper for lockdown but imposing strict local rules which are putting economy activity on hold.
“In such cases, no government can run away from their responsibilities to compensate ill effects of lockdowns and must grant appropriate reliefs to traders”, they stated.
Considering the serious impact caused to trade activities due to the lockdown restrictions in the state, the Maharashtrian traders are now pinning their hopes on the centre and urging the PM to consider their demands.
“Sir, as you are aware that the government of Maharashtra has extended lockdown till 27th June 2021; however, looking at the current scenario, it is likely to get further extended. Traders of Maharashtra are in dire need of hand-holding from Central Government and we are sure that you will bail out the traders by considering our demands,” TUFOM said.
Demands of Maharashtra traders:
1) Interest-free moratorium for 90 days for all loans upto INR 50 lacs and 50% interest waiver for all loans above INR 50 lacs.
• For MSMEs and Home loan borrowers: All EMIs including EMIs related to term-loans to be extended by 90 days without any interest or penal interest or late payment charges from 1st April 2021 till 31st July 2021. Such extension or delay should not impact credit rating of the borrower.
• For others: All EMIs including EMIs related to term-loans above INR 50 Lacs to be extended by 90 days with 50% of normal interest but without any penal interest or late payment charges from 1st April 2021 till 31st July 2021 and such extension or delay should not impact credit rating of the borrower.
2) Extension of all due dates, at least for 3 months, for GST and all other central government taxes, Insurance policies, utility bills, without interest and penalty.
3) Waiver of demurrage charges and penalties at ports for the lockdown periods for the ports situated in those states where lockdown is being imposed by respective state governments.
4) In spite of RBI and GOI’s instructions, at ground level no banks are offering any relief in interest rates to traders as they are not covered in SMEs and MSMEs. Traders must be immediately included in SMEs and MSMEs. Need immediate intervention of the government.
5) Relaxation in calculation of drawing power: Norms for calculation of DP viz. margin on receivables over 90 days to be relaxed to further 90 days and ageing of stock to be also relaxed for 90 days. The DP norms to be relaxed till 31st March, 2022.
6) Restructuring of existing credit limits and Moratorium on interest and instalments for up to 12 months to specific industries directly affected by COVID 19 such as Tourism, Textile, Logistics, Hospitality, Entertainment, Auto and ancillary Industries etc.
• Change of Norms for NPAby RBI from present 90 days to 180 days.
• Allow Extension of payment of Letter of Credit (LC) s, both inland and foreign by 180 days.
• Urgent refund of long-awaited VAT, GSTand incentives/subsidies with immediate effect.
• No fresh notice to be issued for GST audit and those already issued to be kept in abeyance for min 6 months.
7) GST refunds need to be processed urgently and within a certain time frame. If refund processing is taking time then based on prima facie verification of documents 75% to be paid.