Traders across the country have expressed deep disappointment and anger at being neglected in the coronavirus relief package announced by the government and have demanded immediate intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"We are terribly disappointed and angry that our interests have not been taken into account. There is nothing in the package for us," said Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary-General, Confederation of All India Traders. "On various occasions, the Prime Minister has called the traders the spine of the economy and we did our duty and helped ensure essential supplies to our coronavirus frontline warriors even in these times of distress. Yet the government chose to ignore us."
CAIT said around 20 per cent of the trading community would have to shut down their businesses if no relief was forthcoming. Also, another 10 per cent that are dependent on this 20 per cent segment would also have to look at alternative business streams, it added.
"The Prime Minister should intervene immediately. Once the lockdown is lifted, traders will be in deep financial distress as they would have to pay wages, interest on loans, taxes and other costs associated with business," Khandelwal said. "How are we supposed to survive this crisis? Do we not matter to the economy at all?"
CAIT represents about 7 crore traders across the country. The organisation had earlier said traders were finding it difficult to pay wages due to the downturn in the business. The government has announced a package for the micro small and medium enterprises so that they could borrow money without additional collateral from banks to meet their working capital requirement.
"It is wishful thinking. Do you think any banker will even let a trader enter their office for a loan in this environment?" said a Delhi-based trader who requested anonymity. "The government is in its own bubble. They have no clue how things work in the real world," he added.