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Govt to seek public view on National Retail Trade Policy soon

The large number of laws, compounded by state-level variations in implementation, create immense complexity for retailers, especially those with a pan-Indian footprint, Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/MintPremium
The large number of laws, compounded by state-level variations in implementation, create immense complexity for retailers, especially those with a pan-Indian footprint, Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

  • The policy will address multiple areas like ease of doing business by simplifying licenses and the processes related to it and look at how compliances on retail businesses can be streamlined

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New Delhi: A National Retail Trade Policy that covers multiple areas such as ease of doing business, streamline compliances on retail businesses under a single umbrella is in the works and will be soon shared for public consultation, a senior government official has said.

Speaking at the Retailers Association of India (RAI) event Retail India Summit & Expo (RISE) 2021 on Wednesday, Anil Agarwal, additional secretory, DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce, said while the Centre has created many model policies to guide state governments and a model framework is being created to ease inter-state trade, it is important to have a National Retail Trade Policy. This will soon be shared for public consultation, he said.

“In the policy we will be addressing multiple areas like Ease of Doing Business by simplifying licenses and the processes related to it. The proposed policy will also look at how compliances on retail businesses can be streamlined under one umbrella act. Including retail and wholesale trade under MSME has been a huge win for the sector as it has opened doors for lending from banks under priority sector schemes. However, the retail trade policy will address looking at unconventional means for the sector to get cheaper finance options as well," he added.

Work on the policy has been ongoing for some time now.

Retailers have been batting for a national retail policy that will help form a framework and mobilize the sector, 80-85% of which is still largely unorganized. The sector provides employment to 50 million people. Retail trade in India is governed by many laws, including the Shops and Establishments Act, Competition Act, Consumer Protection Act, Essential Commodities Act and the Legal Metrology Act, it pointed out.

In many cases, retailers need to obtain 16 to 25 licences to open a store. The large number of laws, compounded by state-level variations in implementation, create immense complexity for retailers, especially those with a pan-Indian footprint, according to a 2020 report by industry body CII and consulting company Kearney.

Agarwal said there have been efforts from the government on reducing cost of logistics and movement of goods, which will continue to see progress. “There will be special focus on developing entertainment zones and also specialized skill development short-term courses in vernacular languages to bridge the gap of skilled manpower in retail," he said.

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