Dipen Agrawal, President of Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry & Trade (CAMIT) said the wholesale and retail traders are the important chain in any economy as they deploy self labour, capital and take all risk on themselves to bring goods manufactured in one part of the country to the consumers located in his/her area. They extend the gratuitous services to collect the indirect tax revenue from consumer on behalf of the government. Maharashtra is encountering unpreceded surge in covid positive cases which have surpassed the peak of first wave. The state government in its attempt to contain spreading of corona virus has issued “Break the Chain” order on April 4, 2021 and April 13, 2021, wherein non-essential shops, industries and offices are directed to remain closed till 7 am on May 1, 2021. CAMITs executive committee after discussing with stakeholders across the state has requested state government for handholding support and financial relief package for traders.
Mohan Gurnani, Chairman-CAMIT, Covid-19 has brought new challenges to entire business community. Last year there was total shut down, business loss for 3 or 4 months with no revenue, unable to pay salaries even at the reduce rate, incurring huge losses, etc exposed them to immense hardship. Liquidity infused in the system under Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line, top-up up to 20% of existing credit facilities worked for industries which are thriving, however for small & medium enterprise it was of some help to restart but it did not help them to recover the losses.
Ashok Bafna, Executive President-CAMIT, said business entities particularly MSMEs are growth centric; they invest all their earnings in growth to build their business. They don’t have surpluses, they don’t keep personal assets separate from their business, and most of them think their business is the beginning and end of their life. They don’t have reserves like PSUs and MNCs they work with very limited resources of their own and sometimes financed by small bank or private finance.
Raju Rathi, Sr. Vice President-CAMIT, said businessmen’s natural instinct is to survive they don’t like to die, this can be seen from the GST revenue figures of last quarter of FY 2020-21. They attempted to rebuild their business even after they were denied any financial support, however in present time if a lot of hand holding support is not extended from the government, banks and down the line administrative officers at all levels the supply chain is bound to collapse.
Ajit Kothari, Secretary-CAMIT, said in present crucial time, it is necessary for state government to initiate urgent steps to minimise the losses incurred during the lockdown and protect their income post lockdown, else many traders will perish and will face insolvency.
Mitesh Modi, Secretary-CAMIT, said CAMIT has sent representation to Chief Minister, Udhav Thackeary and Dy. Chief Minister Ait dada Pawar highlighting the plight of trading community due to back-to-back Covid-19 lockdown and called upon him for devising extraordinary measures to minimise their losses and to take trade specific measures.
Electricity Charges: CAMIT has represented that demand for relaxation in fixed charges (MD) is pending since 2020 and once again request to direct Distribution Companies to completely waive fixed charge (Demand Charges) for the lockdown period and thereafter charge industrial and commercial consumers n actual consumption/ recorded demand charges for next six months. For Commercial Establishments they suggested electricity bills should be raised on actual energy units consumed during the lockdown period and next six months.
Wage Subsidy: CAMIT has represented that instead of burdening the employer to pay wages to covid infected employee, government should direct E.S.I.C. & Insurance Companies (in cases where Workmen Policy is taken in lieu of E.S.I.C.) to pay sickness benefits to employees for the lockdown period and alternatively 50% of wages should be reimbursed directly to traders.
Release of payment: CAMIT has represented that government should direct all its departments to clear receivables of business enterprise from Government Departments & Undertakings and SGST refunds to be processed & issued immediately.
Property Tax: CAMIT has represented that Local Bodies should be directed to give concession in Property Tax of commercial and residential property to give solace to bleeding business community.
Labour workforce: CAMIT highlighted that workforce has started migrating from the state to their home town and is appears that they will be reluctant to come back due to frequent lockdowns announced by government. To address this situation CAMIT represented that there is need for governments’ assurance to them with regards to safety at work place across the state and making appropriate transportation arrangements from their native place to their respective work place.
Exemption in rent: CAMIT represented that Local Bodies should be directed to waive the rent for lockdown period of small and marginal self-employed vendors and traders.
Ready Reckoner Rates: CAMIT represented that ready reckoner is the basis of charging stamp duty and consequent income tax on real estate transactions. Corona virus lockdown has equally affected the real estate market demand is grim and prices have fallen 30-40%. To match the prevailing market rates government should reduce ready reckoner rates in the state to enable real estate developers to liquidate their inventory to self-finance their new projects.
RERA: CAMIT highlighting that Government of India had announced to treat Covid-19 as ‘Act of God’ for real estate, consequently a “Force Majeure” under RERA and therefore all Registration Certificate Date and Completion Date for all registered projects expiring on or after 25 March, 2020 were extended by 6 months without individual applications. Represented that since lockdown is again imposed in the state, government should consider giving relaxation from provisions of RERA for delayed projects till 6 months from end of present lockdown.
Stamp Duty concession: CAMIT mentioned that recent stamp duty concession offered by government has given desired results, real estate sector witnessed manyfold increase in transactions in last few months of FY 2020-21. To promote states’ real estate sector and enhance liquidity in the sector, CAMIT represented that government should re-introduce stamp duty concession for next 6 months. This step will not only give boost to sector but also industries affiliated/connected to real-estate sector.
Refund/Payment: CAMIT represented that government should direct concerned department for refund/ payment of long-awaited VAT, GST and incentives/subsidies with immediate effect or if they face difficulty in issue of refund due to lockdown, they may issue digital certificate stating name of MSME and amount of refund, which will enable MSME to obtain collateral/ secured loan from Scheduled banks.
Increase in limit of E-way bill: CAMIT demanded that intra-state e-way bill threshold limit should be increased. It should be made Rs 5 lakhs. This will not give any kind of financial relief, but this will surely give relief from some compliance and thereby saving time so that more focus can be given on reorganising the business activities.
GST Audit Notice: CAMIT suggested that government should direct SGST department to keep in abeyance issuance of notice for conducting GST audit by department for next 3 months and give time to businesses to come in normal routine. In case if notice of GST audit is already issued the same should be stayed till next 3 months. This will also help GST practitioners to get time to assist the traders in complying with audit requirements.
Cancellation of GST Registration: CAMIT requested government to give relaxation on automatic cancellation of GST registration on non-filing GST return during the lockdown period and 30 days grace period post lockdown must be allowed for compliance in cases where Form GSTR 3B are not filed for a period of 2 or more months.
Extension of GST Return due date: CAMIT e appreciating the steps taken by government appealing Union government to extend due date for filing GST returns by three months, suggested that government should follow-up the appeal at highest level and ensure that Union government accedes’ State governments request and announce Maharashtra state specific GST compliance relief.
Hospitality & Tourism sector: Hospitality and tourism sector is hit hardest by Covid-19 pandemic since last March. Under ‘Begin Again’ post previous lockdown hospitality sector was the last sector to be permitted to resume services and now first to be closed under present Break the Chain orders. Many restaurants and bars have perished in previous lockdown. Hotel & tourism could not even resume their normal activities and they are now required to stop their business. Same is the condition of auditoriums, marriage halls and lawns. CAMIT demanded special financial package is most needed by this sector.
Dipen Agrawal requested Chief Minister to constitute group of ministers to study the suggestions/demands and design specific proposals to bring justice for traders to protect the backbone of our economy from any irreversible damage.
Informs press release issued by Sanjay K. Agrawal, Vice President (Nagpur), CAMIT.