Coronavirus: Traders unable to pay employee salaries in full for April, says CAIT

CAIT requested Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to intervene in the matter, which it described as being of great concern for the traders.

As India continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Thursday wrote to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal saying that traders are unable to pay full wages to their employees for the month of April.

CAIT requested Goyal to intervene in the matter, which it described as being of "great concern for the traders, small industries and other industrial sectors of the country."

CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said it is a matter of satisfaction that the Government is fully alive towards the welfare of people belonging to all verticals of the country.

However, upon receiving inputs from traders across the country through a video conference, CAIT learned that business establishments being closed since March 25, 2020, had led to the inability of traders to bear any more financial burden.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said, "It is becoming more difficult for traders to pay full salary for the period of April to their employees since they are undergoing a tremendous financial crunch, and any full payment of salary to employees for April is next to impossible. If such payments are made, the business of the traders will fall, and in the absence of any inflow of money, such payments will be disastrous for the retail trade of the country and will badly affect the economy."

Both trade leaders urged Goyal to "look into the ground reality", where businesses are completely closed. CAIT also said that while realising the unprecedented current situation, the Government should carve out a method under which "this crucial and critical issue is resolved to the satisfaction of all".

In a recent letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, CAIT suggested that traders be allowed to pay the salaries "as per mutual agreement between the employer or employees", or allow them to pay 30 percent of the salary, which is "quite sufficient for livelihood of the employees".

Alternatively, CAIT suggested, the government may contribute 50 percent of the salary, traders may contribute 25 percent, and the rest should be borne by the employees. Under the current scenario, when there is no business and traders are overburdened with several financial obligations, a needy intervention from the Government is required to ensure justice, it added.

In another recent statement, CAIT said that ever since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 24, the Indian retail sector has lost approximately 5.50 lakh crore in this period and is likely to witness at least 20 percent of Indian retailers collapse and wind up their businesses in the next few months. 

It said that COVID-19 has caused a huge irreparable dent in Indian retail trade which will have a devastating effect on the whole country. 

“Indian retailers do a daily business of around Rs 15,000 crore and the country is in a lockdown for over 40 days now, which means there is a massive loss of over Rs 5.50 lakh crore of business, which is done by seven crore traders of India,” both executives said in a statement.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta