All India Traders’ body protested against the Odisha government’s decision to allow e-commerce companies to resume services for all products.
Bhubaneswar, April 17, 2020
The Odisha government’s decision on April 13, permitting all e-commerce companies to deliver all kinds of goods (essential and non-essential) has rattled local traders and shop owners.
Saroj Kumar Das, vice president of the Trade Union Association of Khurda district of Odisha said, “The state government’s decision seems unilateral. It should have taken some measures to protect the local traders and shopkeepers before giving such an advantage to the e-commerce companies.”
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had submitted a communication to the commerce minister Piyush Goyal, which said that this move of the state government is in sheer violation of Ministry of Human Affairs (MHA) guidelines which had allowed the delivery of only essential commodities through e- commerce firms.
Not only Odisha, but the Maharashtra state government has also decided to allow the e-commerce companies to deliver all goods. CAIT had written in opposition to the decision of both of these state governments.
“I haven’t opened my shop for a month now. If the government allows non-essential items, it should permit our shops to open as well. Small businesses need help the most because we face a lot of financial loss. If businesses should open up, why should it only be restricted to e-commerce companies?” asked a retail shop owner, who did not want to be named. He sells non-essential items.
The traders’ body also accused e-commerce giants of disappearing during the lockdown period and said that it was unfair of the state governments to allow them to supply non-essential items after April 21, while the local shops are not given the same privilege.
People already prefer online shopping more. If e-commerce companies are allowed to capitalise on these desperate times, in the future, our small retail business will suffer. our profit margins have been shrinking since online shopping has taken off,” added the retail shop owner.
Deesha Mitra, a student, said, “Instead of opening multiple stores which will only defy the purpose of a lockdown, it is a better option to allow online shopping and delivery. People who need to buy things that are essential for them will be able to do it from home.”
She added that forcing the retailers dealing with non-essential items to open shutters when their shops might not see even a single customer, is taking unnecessary risk.
Tejaswini Behera, another student said, “I don’t see the need for allowing these e-commerce firms to deliver non-essential goods. It is understandable that people will have both online and offline options to shop for essential items, but during these times, only essential services should be allowed.”
She further said that in rural areas people rely only on these local shops, so they should be given more leeway.
“The CAIT has demanded the centre to immediately advise the Government of Maharashtra & Odisha to withdraw the said notification for not being in line with the guidelines of MHA,” CIAT had told the media.
A report suggested that both essential and non-essential commodities traders and retailers across the value chain are losing at least Rs. 15,000 crore a day due to the lockdown.
Earlier this month, CAIT had written to the Finance Ministry seeking a relief package to protect the traders facing losses during the lockdown period. “…This time a strong stimulus package is needed for the small businesses who are the contributors of a major chunk of revenue to the government treasury and are also the backbone of the Indian economy,” it said.