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Maharashtra retailers divided over state retail policy

A section feels the policy favours organised sector, but all of them welcome single-window clearance and removal of inspection raj


Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

Is the government serious about FDI in retail?

Retailers in Maharashtra are divided over the Maharashtra Retail Trade Policy 2016, announced at the Make In India Week event.

According to the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), it favours the organised sector, barely four per cent of the total market, with the other 96 per cent ignored even in drafting it. However, the Retailers Association of India has said the policy will help increase choice and convenience for consumers.

Viren Shah, president of FRTWA, told Business Standard, “Various sops proposed in the policy will largely be beneficial to mall developers in the organised sector. The unorganised sector will continue to face the huge problems of parking, Floor Space Index (FSI), and extra height in shops.”

He added the only advantage for the unorganised sector is in terms of 24x7 opening hours and extra employment, removal of inspector raj, one window clearance. He added FRTWA recently sent a communication to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expressing its disappointment.

However, Retailers Association of India Chief Executive Officer Kumar Rajagopalan said: “The policy ensures retailers of all sizes benefit from it. Ease of doing business is a key requirement for small retailers since they are subjected to compliance under various laws and licences. This policy has created a more structured method of getting this automated and reduction of unnecessary inspections,” he added. According to Rajagopalan, the policy should help generate employment for women in retail.

Shah said the policy should help create more job opportunities, empowerment of women by allowing them to work part time and till 10 pm and empowerment of farmers by allowing them for free trade directly to consumer.

“The policy also gives a boost to skilling people for retail and recognising the skills. Direct access to farmers also ensures freedom and options to farmers to deal with retailers. Retail is an important factor - people choose their house after considering the availability of schools, hospitals and retail spaces. This policy has created the need for urban development to carve spaces for retail and entertainment zone,” said Rajagopalan.

Shah added the provision of the single window clearance to facilitate licensing faster and efficiently and the simplification of labour laws would benefit retailers in both organised and unorganised sectors.

He also said provisions such as removal of 30-metre high restriction from multiplex and auditorium buildings, and change of plans such as converting retail into restaurant or entertainment or vice-versa internally allowed within malls will benefit players in the organised sector.

Rajagopalan said the policy would also help speed up setting up distribution centres, which should help reduce waste and increase efficiency. However, he emphasised the need for putting in place the operational guidelines and relevant changes to rules and acts for the effective implementation of the policy.

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First Published: Mon, February 29 2016. 00:09 IST