Restoring Delhi’s supply chain main concern of traders
The Union home ministry on Sunday announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 31 and issued broad guidelines for the states on the relaxations that could be provided during the period.Updated: May 18, 2020, 04:17 IST
Traders in Delhi have welcomed the Centre’s decision to allow markets to open in the fourth phase of the lockdown -- from May 17 to May 31 -- announced on Sunday, saying businesses hit by the restrictions will finally pick up in the Capital.
The Union home ministry on Sunday announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 31 and issued broad guidelines for the states on the relaxations that could be provided during the period. The Delhi government will issue a final list of relaxations, based on the Centre’s recommendations, on Monday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet. “Delhi govt will prepare the detailed plan for Delhi based on the Centre’s guidelines and announce it tomorrow,” Kejriwal tweeted.
While manufacturing units were allowed to operate in the city from May 3, production has not been at full scale due to the imbalance between demand and supply as markets remained shut, according to industrial associations. They say that only 25-40% of industries had resumed work.
Last week, the Delhi government had suggested an odd-even scheme for markets in its proposal to the Centre on relaxations for the fourth phase of the lockdown. The Delhi government is likely to release its guidelines for markets on Monday.
Brijesh Goyal, the convener of the Aam Aadmi Party’s trade wing and national convener of the Chamber of Trade and Industry, said, “The government is in the process of finalising the guidelines for markets, now that the Centre has given its go-ahead.”
Malls are not likely to be permitted to open in Delhi till May 31, as the Centre did not agree to the Delhi government’s proposal of allowing 33% of the shops to open every day. However, the relaxations for stand-alone and neighbourhood shop will continue, a senior government official said.
However, traders’ associations in Delhi are divided over the odd-even proposal and also on the issue of whether markets should open.
Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, the Confederation of All India Traders, said the opening of markets will restore the demand and supply balance, but the odd-even formula won’t be effective because traders are dependent upon other traders for exchange and purchase of goods. In a press statement, he suggested staggered timings for shops.
Members of the traders’ association in Chandni Chowk said a final decision will be taken tomorrow, but they would prefer to remain shut till May 31, due to the market’s proximity to a containment zone.
Manufactures said that the opening of markets is essential for demand to pick up. Lack of demand, shortage of raw material, closure of wholesale markets, unavailability of transport and reduced labour availability have hampered production.
Ashish Garg, secretary of Narela Industrial Complex Welfare association, said, “Opening our industrial units have no meaning when there is no demand. All businesses, including wholesale, small traders, small-scale industries etc, in the supply chain have to be up and running for economic activity to revive, as we all are inter-dependent.”
The continuous migration of labour force to their home states has compounded the problem, say factory owners. “With the labour force, especially unskilled labour, leaving the city, it will become difficult to restart businesses. There is even a shortage of skilled labour and it is difficult to find replacements for them,” said Rakesh Sachdeva, the president of Naraina Industrial Area Phase 1 and 2.
Rajesh Garg, the secretary of the Indian Council for Trade and Industries, who owns a factory in Narela, said the government needs to draft a long-term policy to revive businesses. “Coronavirus disease will not vanish in a month or two. The Centre and state governments should come up with a long-term policy,” said Rajesh Garg.