Faced with heavy losses, trades’ bodies in Mumbai are now lobbying aggressively for resumption of economic activities. Citing that thousands of traders were struggling to stay afloat, the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), an umbrella body of 781 registered trade associations, has approached Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for permitting both retail and wholesale traders to resume activities even in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
“Let’s open as much as possible. Let’s open as safely as possible,” said Vinesh Mehta, president, FAM, which represents over 20 lakh traders across the state, most of which are located within the MMR. In his letter to Thackeray, Mehta wrote, “We (the association) have received a number of appeals from retailers, semi wholesale and wholesale associations seeking the easing of curbs from June 1 onwards.”
The letter, also marked to state’s Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, makes a desperate plea for reopening. “We are willing to open for curtailed hours, on alternate days, or even on select days of the week. We will adhere to all the Covid-19 precautionary measures listed by the government and the Mumbai municipality. But let us open,” it states.
Mehta told The Indian Express that the trade businesses, both in the retail and wholesale sector, had sustained massive losses owing to the supply chain disruptions and the unprecedented mass closures. “We understand the difficulties and the ground realities faced by the government. But businesses are bleeding heavily; paying salaries to the staff is becoming a challenge by the day. The government (Centre) has permitted e-commerce operators to deliver goods, but retail and wholesale traders haven’t got any relief or assistance,” said Mehta.
His colleague, Jitendra Shah, Sr Vice President, FAM, said, “It’s not just about allowing the businesses to open; it’s also about our customers. Traders will lose clients if they do not service their requirements. Other states have allowed traders to resume. The state is also losing out on tax revenue.” He added, “Our plea is to resume as much as possible. Even opening our shops for some days and hours of the week will be helpful at this stage.” The FAM has also approached South Mumbai elected representatives including Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, Congress MLA Amin Patel, and BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha to raise their cause.
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