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Specify if e-commerce platforms can sell non-essentials too, says Congress

Congress leader Ajay Maken. | File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should clarify if e-commerce companies are allowed to sell only essential items or they can sell non-essential commodities too from April 20, the Congress said on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters through a videoconference, senior party leader Ajay Maken highlighted the plight of retail traders during the lockdown. He said the new MHA guidelines for limited economic actitvities denied a level playing field for the traditional traders.

Also read | COVID-19: Revised guidelines issued by MHA

“For the essentials items, traders have been allowed to open their shops and sell, but for non-essential items, if only the e-commerce companies are allowed, then the traders are not being given a level playing field,” he said.

“What we are asking from the government is first they should clarify their April 15 order and then it should come forward to rescue these traders and ensure that they don’t have to pay fixed electricity charges. Some amount of help should be given so that they can pay salaries and the property taxes should also be not collected at commercial rates from the shopkeepers,” he added.

As per the 6th economic census of 2013, after agriculture, retail trade was the most dominant economic activity and accounted for 35% of the total economic activities. “As far as the employment generation is concerned, retail trade accounts for the 1/5 of the total employment in India. It gives employment to around 2.72 crores families in the entire country. So, it is one of the biggest employment generator, second only to the manufacturing sector,” he noted.

Traders had closed their shops for the past one month and earlier suffered due to demonetisation, e-commerce competition and the GST, he said.

Also read: Standard Operating Procedure for social distancing at workplace | What is allowed and what is not allowed after April 20?

Other State governments should follow the Congress-ruled Punjab and Rajasthan where fixed charges for electricity for non-domestic connections had been deferred by two months, he stated.

Tewari seeks panel meet

In a related development, Lok Sabha member and senior party leader Manish Tewari wrote to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance Jayant Sinha, demanding a meeting of the committee to discuss the situation arising out of COVID-19.

“Even before the lockdown that commenced on the 24th of March 2020, the Indian economy was not in the pink of the health. However, the last 25 days have demonstrated how fragile our economy is and the poor have been the worst sufferers of this tragic spectre,” Mr. Tewari wrote, while asking for a meeting post April 20 when some of the restrictions are set to be relaxed.

Separately, senior leader Veerappa Moily, slammed the Centre for the relief package of ₹1.72 lakh crore announced earlier. “The government should have ensured at least a package of 9% of GDP, which works out to ₹17.5 lakh crore. What the government and RBI has done is only peanuts, which will not allow the economy to stabilise, forget about taking off”, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 1:23:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/specify-if-e-commerce-platforms-can-sell-non-essentials-too-says-congress/article31376687.ece

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