In the wake of objections from various quarters, the Maharashtra government has asked a body of small traders to give suggestions or inputs for its retail policy within the next 15 days.
Recently, the BJP-led government came out with a draft retail trade policy, which was dubbed as being against the interests of small traders and in favour of big malls and shopping centres. The government has approached the Federation of Retail Trade Welfare Association (FRTWA) to help it re-draft the policy.
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FRTWA received a letter from S V Patil, Deputy Director of Industries Department, on September 21, asking it to suggest changes in the draft or provide a broad framework for the policy within 15 days. The government’s draft retail trade policy allows shops to remain open for 24 hours, 365 days a year.
However, it specifies that retail operations will be allowed from 5 am to 11 pm and the remaining time (11 pm to 5 am) will have to be spent on work of logistics and supplies.
As per the draft, shops can remain open every day of the week but employees have to be given a weekly off, power tariffs will be rationalised and shopping centres will get 50 per cent additional floor space index (construction rights).
Viren Shah, President of FRTWA, said he has asked the government for at least 30 days to make a revised draft policy. “We have to set up a committee of various associations who will make a revised policy. The draft cannot be prepared in 15 days as the time is too short,” Shah said.
“The association has already rejected the draft policy which the department has framed. The policy favours only malls and multi-storied shopping centres. Instead of unorganised sector, which is 96 per cent, the policy favours the organised sector, which accounts for only 4 per cent,” he added.
Shah said the FRTWA wants to discuss issues pertaining to power tariff rationalisation, free parking space, inspector raj, penalty issues with the department officials before submitting its suggestions.