The government will soon set up a National Traders Welfare board to improve access to funds and expedite welfare benefits to traders.
The board will be formed under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. It will make recommendations to reduce compliance burden by cutting down on licenses and will act as an intermediary between traders and the government, an official said.
The Board will be chaired by a 'person capable of representing the issues of traders' who will be nominated by the government, according to an official document seen by Business Standard. Five other positions will be created as non-official members of the board for 'persons having special knowledge of matters relating to the technical or other aspects of retail trade', the document said.
The government is yet to decide on what would be the remuneration offered to board members, which will also include up to 10 representatives of trade associations, another official said. The Board was a key promise by the BJP in its Sankalp Patra (Election manifesto) for the retail sector and millions of traders nationwide.
The government allowed DPIIT to take singular control over internal trade earlier this year in January. It had hitherto remained the domain of the Department of Consumer Affairs, from which certain divisions were transferred to the new DPIIT. The two departments have clashed in the past regarding the formulation of rules, most notably the proposed National Retail Policy.
Ever since DPIIT has focused on creating a singular agency with firm taxation and operational control over the sector. This includes taking back the reins of policy discussions on the proposed e-commerce policy from the Commerce Department. It has also assumed charge of the discussions on a proposed national retail policy that aims to upgrade and modernize the existing format of retail trade.
File Photo: Before LS polls, PM Narendra Modi had made a slew of promises to traders at an event in New Delhi. Forming the traders’ welfare board was one of them
Apart from a low rate of interest and short to midterm lending for traders, the policy should also have a mechanism to review laws, acts, rules and regulations governing trade in the policy, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said. CAIT has also argued that it should have specific goals to improve physical infrastructure in traditional and local neighborhood markets.
While DPIIT Secretary Ramesh Abhishek had announced that the draft policy would be made public within the next 10 days, it is yet to be unveiled.
The BJP had also promised to look into ways to increase welfare for traders as well as a fixed pension for small retailers. The Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan, Yojana 2019, announced in the budget, has been notified by the Labour Ministry. It is currently working to roll out an online portal for traders to apply for the scheme. Under the scheme, those who are self-employed and working as shop-owners, retail traders, rice mill owners, oil mill owners, workshop owners, commission agents, real estate brokers, small hotel owners, restaurant owners, and other small traders will be eligible for pension.
Small traders between 18 and 40 years of age, having an annual turnover below Rs 1.5 crore qualify for the scheme. It gives the subscribers Rs 3,000 a month after they turn 60, once they have contributed to the scheme every month from the time of enrollment, with the government matching the monthly contribution.