Haryana govt appeasing e-commerce firms: Surjewala

Randeep Surjewala
General Secretary, Indian National Congress, Randeep Surjewala

Chandigarh, April 18 (IANS) Senior Congress leader and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Saturday accused the BJP-JJP government in Haryana of appeasing the rich e-commerce companies at the cost of the businesses and livelihood of 10 lakh small shopkeepers.

He said the government is giving a monopoly to the e-commerce companies in selling non-essential goods by denying the same opportunity to the small shopkeepers.

Addressing the media via video conference, Surjewala said the anti-trader and anti-shopkeeper decision of the BJP-JJP government would not be tolerated and demanded its reconsideration.

Calling the government’s decision as an impractical move, Surjewala demanded protection to the small shopkeepers by permitting them to deliver goods in their local areas at the doorsteps of customers via contactless home delivery.

This will help in achieving the goal of social distancing, while supporting economic revival for the country.

Surjewala said the BJP government seemed to be keen on destroying the businesses of about seven crore small shopkeepers in the country as it was favouring the e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart over the shopkeepers facing economic hardships due to the lockdown.

He accused the BJP-JJP government of being unfair to the small shopkeepers and sought to know the logic of not allowing home delivery facilities of non-essential goods to the shopkeepers, while the same facility would become available to the e-commerce companies after April 20.

Highlighting the woes and problems of retailers, Surjewala said the stalled businesses during the lockdown has resulted in huge losses for the entire MSME sector and now the period of lockdown has been further extended till May 3.

The shopkeepers and local traders have made heavy investments in their businesses and goods worth lakhs of crores were lying in their shops and godowns.

Despite the closure of the business, the shopkeepers are paying their rents, fixed electricity bills on commercial rates, commercial taxes and heavy interest on their investments.

Obeying the government orders, the shopkeepers are also paying full salaries to their employees during the lockdown, but for some strange reason, the Khattar-Chautala government seemed to be keen on punishing them, he added.

After April 20, the e-commerce companies will be free to sell fridges, TVs, computers, mobiles, textiles, jewellery, and other non essential goods, but the shopkeeper’s business has been stalled until May 3, Surjewala said.

The Retailer Association of India has also said 25 per cent of the shopkeepers will lose their livelihood and the majority of the shopkeepers may not even earn a single penny for the next 12 months.

Surjewala asked the Khattar government to answer if it would waive off shopkeepers’ electricity bills, commercial taxes and give them special exemption in GST.

“Is the decision to give e-commerce and online companies permission from April 20 to sell non-essential goods a well thought out conspiracy to ruin the small shopkeepers,” he asked.

“Chief Minister Khattar-ji and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala-ji were elected to serve the people. Over 10 lakh shopkeepers constitute an important part of those who elected them. Why are they betraying the faith as also the business of 10 lakh shopkeepers and close to over one crore employed in shops and small businesses and acting as agents of big e-commerce companies,” Surjewala added.

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