Small traders in the country are overjoyed at the re-election of Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with an overwhelming majority.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal while complimenting the Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah said that traders have played a major role in the victory of the BJP as 7 crore traders across the country along with their employees consolidated a vote bank in support of the party and its allies.
The traders went all out, claimed Khandelwal, to not only vote for the BJP but also exhorted their family members and all their clients to follow their example.
"Among all poll surveys, the poll survey of CAIT was found to be the most accurate. The CAIT on the basis of a national survey conducted among traders and their consumers predicted 290 seats for BJP and 50 seats for NDA allies,"said Khandelwal.
The traders decided to back Modi and the BJP for the measures taken for encouraging entrepreneurship in the country like Startup India, Stand-Up India, Skill India and Make in India among others. Besides, the government's 'biggest' reforms, as Khandelwal chose to describe the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which did away with multiple taxations and brought the country under a unified tax rule.
The Modi government launched the GST on 1 July, 2017. Though it has had a number of hiccups since its implementation, it has resulted in lowering the cost of most of the goods and services. Now that the NDA has returned to power, the traders expect that more changes will be brought to simplify GST, said Khandelwal.
What really pushed the tide in favour of the Modi government was his speech at Talakotra Stadium last month where he said the traders were the 'backbone' of the Indian economy but had in the past never got the respect they deserved. The economy cannot get to the target of $ 5 trillion without their contribution, Modi had said.
Addressing a traders' convention, he said the main Opposition Congress abused businessmen by calling all of them chor (thieves), while the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi used to take pride in hailing from the businessmen community of baniya.
The recognition that the traders got from the prime minister was very encouraging, said Khandelwal, and we went out to encourage the traders community to vote for him and the BJP, he said.
Mahesh Bakhai, a trader from Mumbai, said that the GST has done a lot for traders. For instance, the local body tax. The local body tax was levied by local civic bodies on the entry of goods into a local area's limits for consumption, use or sale by traders, businesses and manufacturers. The tax has replaced the Octroi and Cess system of taxing. The local body tax was scrapped by the implementation of GST from 1 July 2017.
"The GST helped us reach a pan-India market. Earlier, we were constrained in one area as taxes/rules were different in different areas," said Bakhai. The government has been quick in recognising an issue when it is brought to its notice, Bakhai said.
The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is the other big advantage to the traders, the traders' body said. The Mudra loan scheme offers credit facilities to micro and small enterprises engaged in income generation.
One of the key benefits of a Mudra loan is that borrowers are not required to provide security or collateral. Additionally, there are no processing charges on Mudra loans.
The credit facilities extended under the PMMY can be for any type of fund or non-fund based requirements and can be used for term loans and overdraft facilities, or to apply for letters of credit and bank guarantees. There is no minimum loan amount for Mudra loans.
Laxmikant Jhunjhunwala, Vice Chairman, CAIT, said that the Modi government is beneficial for traders and pointed out that the process of giving credit to small and medium traders through the Mudra scheme is one of the welcome steps for the traders' community. "The Mudra scheme is a recognition that the government has realised collateral free loans is a necessity."
Traders point out how for the first time a government at the Centre has recognised their importance and contribution to the economy. On being asked about the problems they faced on account of demonetisation, Bakhai said that demonetisation was just a small inconvenience. "The message sent out through demonetisation was clear: That the government was for a formal economy. Even if traders had to suffer on account of it, it wasn't a major issue," he said.
Election promises need not fructify post-elections. But the traders said they would ensure it would. "We will aggressively remind Modi of his promises. We have done our job and duty of getting our community members to vote for him and the BJP. It is their turn now to fulfill our aspirations especially given that the prime minister promised it. The fact that six of them: national traders welfare board, national policy for retail trade, Pension to traders attaining 60 years, Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for traders, issuance of vyapari credit card on the pattern of kisan credit car and loans up to Rs 50 lakhs without any collateral security. We hope that these promises will be fulfilled," said Praveen Khandelwal of CAIT.