It’s good news for retailers in Maharashtra, with the state cabinet on Tuesday approving the retail industries policy that will provide sops to give the fledging sector a boost.
And, if the retailers pass the benefits on, this could translate to lower prices for you, the consumer.
Among the sops are relaxed working hours and a provision to let farmers sell their produce directly to the retail chains. For this, the government plans to loosen restrictions under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act — which does not allow purchase of agricultural produce outside the APMC markets. The exemption will allow retail chains to buy produce directly from the farmer and ensure the farmers get paid better.
Other benefits include open access permission for electricity and granting additional floor space index for vertical construction. The government hopes that with such sops, it can attract more investment in the retail sector, as it has the potential to create jobs.
Maharashtra is only the second state, after Andhra Pradesh, to bring in a separate policy for the sector. The policy, which aims to make Maharashtra’s retail sector top-ranking in the country, has relaxed various other laws too.
The state plans to tweak the Shops and Establishments Act to let shops stay open till 11pm and women employees to work till 10pm. It will also allow the appointment of part-time employees and ensure relaxations to the sector from restriction related to permissions and charges for the display of name boards.
It also has proposes to bring food and grocery retailing under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). By doing this, the state aims to prevent the agriculture produce committees from resorting to the strikes.
“The policy will help Maharashtra boost modern retailing, which has got a push in the e-commerce era. Besides the incentives for retailers, we are also safeguarding interest of the farmers who will now get the opportunity to sell their produce directly to the retailers,” said Subhash Desai, industries minister.
The policy also has proposed Retail Entertainment Zones to boost small establishments that provide services in the entertainment sector.
The policy has been approved in principal, after the cabinet suggested a few changes in the draft. The government is likely to promote it during the Make in India summit that will be held in Mumbai from February 13.
“To ensure speedy approvals and sanctions, the policy has the provision of a single window system,” said an officer from the industries department.