The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), in a reversal from its earlier stand, has announced that traders have become disillusioned with the government. It has attributed its displeasure to the economic downturn, and indifferent attitude of ministers/officials towards domestic trade.
Consequently, the CAIT has called a meeting of the National Governing Council in Patna on March 5-6, to deliberate on the current business scenario and decide on its future strategy. Bihar is set to go to polls this year.
“After the BJP government came to power, traders had great hope that the attitude of the government towards traders would change. However, nothing has changed and traders remain neglected as ever before,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
It added that traders remain “very impressed with Modi's positive attitude and thinking towards the traders and small industries".
Over the past 6 years, CAIT has repeatedly backed the BJP in state and national elections, and has become an instrumental player in the corridors of power, lobbying keenly on policies governing retail, e-commerce, and foreign direct investments, among others.
B C Bhartia, national president of CAIT, and Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, said the executive wing of the government is intentionally neglecting traders’ issues. Traders say the CAIT and other organisations had led several campaigns across the country to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies — including Digital India, Skill India, adoption of digital payments, and GST.
Stepping up its attack, the CAIT also said that despite several problems caused by demonetisation, traders supported the government in its efforts to fight black money.
CAIT has issued a long list of demands that remain pending. On GST, it has pointed out that the system has become very complicated, duplicitous, and inefficient, calling it “mental torture”.
On the contentious issue of e-commerce, it has once again trained its guns on global digital giants, alleging that these are “destroying and devastating domestic trade”, and continue their alleged unethical business practices despite repeated warnings by the government.
It also called out the Enforcement Directorate for not releasing its report on the matter, two years after the body began probing certain e-commerce entities. Further, it argues that foreign direct investment norms continue to be violated. CAIT has also criticised Modi for the management of the Mudra scheme.
“It is true that trillions of rupees have been disbursed under the Mudra Yojana, but it is also a fact that the beneficiaries for whom the Mudra Yojana was introduced didn’t get the loan. This is why non-performing assets are increasing,” it said.
Khandelwal said there were fears over Modi not being given correct feedback about trade and business issues. He added that the contribution of the corporate sector to GDP remained a low 15 per cent, despite the attention given by ministers.