A day after the Maharashtra government issued new operational guidelines for Mission Begin Again in the state, the traders’ community sought Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar’s intervention.
A delegation of the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), which is an umbrella outfit of 781 registered trade associations, on Thursday met Pawar in South Mumbai, with their demand that shops be permitted to remain open from Monday to Saturday. The FAM had earlier written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over the demand, even threatening to launch a “non-cooperation protest” if it wasn’t met on or before August 1 onwards. But the relaxation was not announced by the government on Wednesday when the latest guidelines for opening of public and economic activity were announced.
Extending the lockdown in the state by another month, Thackeray’s government has retained tighter lockdown rules as compared to the Centre. As far as economic activity is concerned, the only major relaxation announced is the reopening of shops in malls and restaurants from August 5 onwards.
On Thursday, at the meeting with Pawar, FAM delegates reiterated the demand for permitted shops to run for six days a week. “We had a detailed discussion over difficulties faced by the business community owing to the lockdown restrictions. Shops are allowed to remain open for just three days in a week at present. This means they operate for just 12 days a week, while the office rent, salaries are to be paid for the whole month. Then there are loans to be paid as well. We conveyed to him that the three day work week model was not viable,” said FAM’s Senior Vice President Jitendra Shah.
The NCP president has said that he will arrange for a joint meeting with the chief minister in the next few days, senior officials to review the traders’ concerns, said Shah. Pawar reportedly also spoke to the CM over the issue whilst the meeting was on.
Citing that thousands of traders were struggling to stay afloat, the traders’ outfit has also sought a revival package. Their demand includes a 3 per cent interest subsidy on fresh capital loans availed this year. In another demand directly made to Thackeray, FAM’s Director General Ashish Mehta has asked the government to consider making a “special case” for farsan and sweet shops by permitting them to remain open on Sunday, August 2, on the eve of Raksha Bandhan. Mehta, in his letter to Thackeray, has argued that the Congress-led government in Punjab had already announced the special dispensation.
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