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Mixed response to Maharashtra's new retail policy
Feb '16
The Maharashtra government’s new Retail Trade Policy provides for online registration for small enterprises with less than nine employees, and also allows farmers to sell directly to retailers, bypassing market of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), a statutory market committee constituted by a State Government APMC markets.

The new policy also allows retailers to operate for almost 24 hours and provides part-time and full-time employment opportunities to housewives and students.

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) which represent big retailers, has hailed the new policy as a win-win situation for all, but small traders feel the retail policy is loaded in favour of big retail businesses.

While the RAI was invited for the unveiling ceremony, the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) was not extended the same courtesy, its president, Viren Shah said.

Shah said the FRTWA represent 96 per cent of traders across Maharashtra while the RAI represents only 4 per cent of the retailers.

RAI on its website said, "All retailers have welcomed the policy, acknowledging it as a memorable occasion for entire retail industry and a great initiative undertaken by the Maharashtra government to provide retail with an industry status.

Shah said the main objective of the government through this policy is to strengthen mall shopping in India. “The maximum benefit will go to the organised sector and the policy does not do anything to fulfill one of the government's objectives in the policy of strengthening the unorganised small retailers to face globalisation," he said.

The policy does have some things common to both the organised and unorganised sector such as extended hours for conducting business, end to inspector raj, simplification of procedures to obtain licenses and renewals, self-declaration, online registration, no fees to be charged for trade name and no permission required either.

But Shah pointed out that there are several clauses that benefit only the big retailers such as extra floor space index 70 per cent higher ground floor coverage, additional height, extra parking facilities free of FSI, change of user within a mall can be carried out, recreation ground can be used for recreation facilities etc.

Shah feared that such clauses will eventually make the policy tilt heavily in favour of big retailers. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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