Expressing its displeasure against the Centre’s demonetisation policy, the Hawker Sangram Committee (HSC) on Friday claimed that the move had paralysed hawkers across the nation, slashing their sales by 80 per cent. The union also announced a protest rally at the heart of Kolkata on November 24.
“Demonetisation has adversely affected around 16 lakh hawkers in Bengal. Their businesses have gone down by 80 per cent. The national turnover by hawkers is around Rs 8.50 crore a day, on which the government also receives tax. Thus, the government has also suffered losses. Hawkers who used to earn Rs 2,000 a day hardly earn Rs 300 now,” said Murad Hossain, joint secretary of the committee.
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According to the union, around 50 per cent of street vendors do not have bank accounts, and many can access banks only in their hometown as they usually keep their documents there. The upcoming rally will be held from Raja Subodh Mallick Square to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), after which a meeting will be held. The lack of liquidity caused by demonetisation has badly affected the market, said the union. People are being forced to depend on online trading.
Hawkers, who are the part of informal economy, have been the worst hit.
Dipankar Dey, an advisor to HSC, said the Centre has created an “artificial crisis”. “This is an artificial crisis which will lead to a global one. Demonetisation will not able to fight black money. Rather, it will put a challenge before the banking industry. With a huge surge in deposits in banks, their interest payment obligation will rise,” said Dey.
The union wants the Centre to make the list of Indians with accounts in swiss banks public. “We also want KMC and the state government to take immediate initiatives towards implementation of the Central Act 2014, registering names of hawkers through a digital survey, and issuing of identity cards,” said Hussain.