Traders demand extended business hours to tide over losses

Non-essential business worst hit, 79% biz accounts under stress: KRA
Traders demand extended business hours to tide over losses
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Srinagar: The restricted business hours following the relaxation in lockdown is continuing to hit businesses in Kashmir, traders say.

The traders association particularly associated with non-essential business say that the impact on non-essential businesses continue to remain huge in Kashmir. Trade bodies said that in order to help them accelerate their business, they need some instant breathers like extension in business hours. After the relaxation in partial lockdown as the businesses are open with some restrictions, the markets continue to stay closed on weekends.

FarhanKitab, who heads the Kashmir Retailer's Association (KRA) said that keeping the markets open on Saturdays can be one of the relaxations that they require instantly.

"If not on Sundays, the government can allow the markets to stay open on Saturdays. It will help us to increase our business hours and compensate our losses to some extent. As some essential businesses have managed to work to some extent, non-essential businesses are hit most," Kitab said.

He also said that private transport, offices are open and people are out on Saturdays. He said it doesn't serve any purpose to keep the markets closed on Saturday's.

"On Sundays people are home and there will be a huge rush at markets if shops are open but at least we can have our businesses open on Saturdays," he said.

Kashmir chapter of All India Retail Association (AIRA) said that as per AIRA, 79 percent of business accounts across India including Kashmir are under stress due to back-to-back lockdowns. They said some instant breathers like extended business hours can help.

Farhan who is also general secretary of the Joint coordination committee (JCC), an amalgam of traders of LalChowk city center said that those traders should be given relaxation in payment of their outstanding bills like electricity bills, rents and others.

Traders said that they are already paying their staff and other expenses while running in losses and that's why such relaxation should be made.

The traders said that non-essential items like fashion, clothing and other related business are hit most and government should seriously provide whatever help they could.

"We have some essential businesses related to the health sector and food sector which continued to operate even as the business was affected to some level. On the other hand, there are businesses like ours related to clothing etc which are hit badly. Government should give us relaxation in the payment of our various bills. Last year government gave us Bank loan facility following losses in 2019 and 2020, after a year we are asked to pay the instalments when everyone knows we are still facing losses in business. In these cases we should be given relaxation," said Rafiq Ahmed, who owns a wedding clothing store in Lalchowk.

The business establishments in Kashmir resumed after the government gave partial relaxation in lockdown on 30th May. However, the businesses establishments continue to stay closed on weekends. The traders now want extended business hours so that their work can pick up.

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