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About 1.5 crore retailers could go bankrupt: Khandelwal

About 1.5 crore retailers could go bankrupt: Khandelwal

<strong>The Finance Ministry may soon announce a Rs 1.3-1.5 lakh crore relief package</strong>

The national lockdown in the country following the spread of the deadly coronavirus is likely to push about 1.5 crore traders and retailers into bankruptcy. Not just that, another more than two crore people engaged in the retail sector could lose their livelihood, Confederation of India Traders (CAIT) secretary general Praveeen Khandelwal told IN.

Amid this crisis, the Finance Ministry is looking at carving out a relief package of about Rs 1.3-1.5 lakh crore relief package for the traders. The announcement could be made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the next few days, sources said.

There has been no revenue for almost 5 crore retail establishments. At present there are about seven crore traders and retail establishments, giving employment to about 40 crore people, according to CAIT.

Indications are that the lockdown will be extended by at least two more weeks. The lockdown, which came into effect from March 25, was to end on April 14. “There has been no income for the traders for the last few weeks, it is not easy for the country's traders and retailers therefore to pay their employees,” Khandelwal said.

He also said that customers will refrain from visiting the markets even after the lockdown is lifted. “We do not see customers coming into shops and marketplaces before June-July, it will take another one month after the lockdown for customers to start visiting the shops,” he added.

CAIT estimated the overall loss in the Indian retail segment the last 15 days to be around $30 billion. According to CAIT, things will not be normal for the trading community before the end of the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Commerce and Industry minister Piyush Goyal held a virtual meeting with the traders last week to assess the situation.

While shops and grocers dealing in essential items such as fruits, vegetables, milk and medicines have been exempt from the lockdown, the supply chain has been dented. Hundreds of traders complained of their supplies getting choked due to disruptions in the transport segment. Many traders dealing in grocery items and medicines have even been denied electronic passes, required to move around in the country during the lockdown..