Mumbai Local

Shops can stay open 24x7: Jaitley

nion finance minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement to allow small shopkeepers to stay open 24x7 has received mixed reactions from traders.

The move will be difficult to implement given the workers will not want to work long and late hours, said a few retailers. Labour laws, too, mandate them to work not more than 8-9 hours a day.

However, the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association welcomed the announcement, adding that it benefits the organised sector more than the unorganised one. The Maharashtra government’s retail policy, too, has no benefit for the 96 per cent of the unorganised sector, which is not in malls, he added. “The overall retail policy is nothing but a ‘mall policy’ to promote 4 per cent of the organised sector to compete with online players. Nothing was so far done for the unorganised sector,” said president of the association Viren Shah.

Earlier this month, the state industries department had made amendments to the Shops and Establishment Act allowing shops to remain open for all 365 days till 10 pm. It had also allowed women employees to work up to 9.30 pm.

The BJP-Sena government has promised more relaxation, including 24x7 operation, as part of the retail policy and the ease of doing business agenda. For now, traders are forced to shut down once a week, exempting only those who have applied for one. “Shops have to take special permission to open during festivals or emergencies. For now there is nothing concrete on the 24x7 timing from the Maharashtra government,” said a retailer who did not wish to be named.

The 24x7 timing is regulated by the police, but the commercial lobby has been demanding the government at least open up hotels and lodgings for 24 hours, if not shops. In a recent report to the government, hoteliers had said: “Lodging houses have various timings within Maharashtra. To ease the (working of) the hospitality industry, we recommend all lodging houses and shops be permitted 24X7 arrival/departure facility.”

Earlier this month, Labour Minister Prakash Mehta had claimed the government was willing to consider the 24x7 timing for retail stores and commercial establishments if the industry demanded it strongly. The minister had, however, clarified that relaxation would not be considered on the basis of a demand for a vibrant nightlife rather than genuine demands from businesses such as grocery stores and restaurants.

“We have almost completed our trade and retail policy and will bring it soon to reality,” said CM Devendra Fadnavis in his post-Budget assessment at a private programme on Monday.



Earlier this month, the state govt had allowed women employees to work up to 9.30 pm



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Printable version | Nov 20, 2020 2:15:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/shops-can-stay-open-24x7-jaitley/article8299871.ece

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