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Retailers and mall developers in India have sought government assistance as they fear jobs could be at risk with the authorities set to extend a 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Complying with directives from various state governments, most shopping centres and malls across India downed shutters ahead of the Centre’s lockdown that was imposed on 25 March.

Retailers of apparel, footwear, home décor, and even restaurants, have been in a bind since various state governments began imposing district-wise closures in mid-March, and malls were asked to shut down, barring those selling essential items.

“The three-week lockdown is likely to continue for the next few weeks, thereby causing a lot of stress on the future of modern trade," Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said in a statement on Monday.

SCAI said the mall owners are currently deprived of any earnings while they continue to bear fixed costs such as personnel, utilities and ongoing routine expenses while servicing their debt obligations.

The industry body has called for certain measures to help protect the financial obligation of malls and shopping centres.

“SCAI is extremely concerned about the long-term sustainability of organized retail trade. We urgently need enough support from the government to bring back the sector on a path of steady revival," said Amitabh Taneja, chairman, SCAI.

It has sought support from financial institutions on lease rental discounting (LRD)—a financing mechanism under which a term loan is offered against rental receipts derived from lease contracts with corporate tenants—to be protected.

SCAI has also called for financial institutions to consider a moratorium on repayment of bank loans, interest and installments. It said that developers should be abstained from any penalties including penal interest. Moreover, a one-time loan restructuring with lower rates of interest be allowed for shopping centres.

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