Retailers ask govt for financial reliefs amid COVID-19 outbreak

New Delhi: Citing loss of business amid closure of stores due to the spread of the coronavirus, Retailers Association of India (RAI) has asked the government for several financial “reliefs” including a 90-day grace period for filing income tax, GST and provident funds and 120 days moratorium for repaying bank loans.

The country’s largest retail group comprising modern retailers including Future Group, Reliance Retail and Shoppers Stop have also asked the government for April-June “job support subsidy” of 50% of minimum wages for retail employees through direct benefit transfer and said the retailers themselves would bear the rest.

“Currently, the retail industry is under lock-down (“closed”). With no revenue flow, the impact is significant to all retailers small or big,” the group representing more than 5,000 retailers said in a press release. “The entire consumption value chain will feel the impact of store closures. There is an urgent need for immediate economic stimulus to ensure continuity of retail stores and consumption in India.” RAI said it has sent letters on Thursday to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the finance ministry.

Over the weeks, various states have ordered closure of malls as part of measures to contain the deadly coronavirus that has affected more than 200,000 people worldwide. Real estate consultancy Anarock said there are more than 120 malls in eight major cities including Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.

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