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Karnataka trade body seeks sops for Covid-hit businesses

IANS | May 22, 2021 08:55 AM

BENGALURU:Reeling under the impact of the extended lockdown across the state, the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) on Friday sought concessions from the state government to the business community suffering mounting losses.

"We urge the state government to waive fixed charges on power levied by state-run distributors on all industrial and commercial establishments, which are reeling under the Covid-induced lockdown that has been extended till June 7, " said FKCCI president Perikal Sundar in a statement here.

The trade body also asked the government to defer payment of current and water bills by 3 months till August 31, as trading and business activities have come to a standstill due to the lockdown imposed since April 27 to contain the virus spread in the pandemic's second wave.

"The state government should reduce property taxes and license fee by 50 per cent to all industries and commercial firms and defer their payment by 3 months, " reiterated Sundar.

Though positive cases have declined since the lockdown was imposed, the number of active cases and fatalities continue to be high across the state despite containment measures.

State Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Friday extended the lockdown by 14 days from May 24 to June 7 to contain the virus spread across the state.

"The state government should reimburse salaries and wages paid to employees by traders, manufacturers, businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for 3 months, " asserted Sundar.

Alternately, the state government should credit Rs 10, 000 per month in the bank accounts of all employees working in the private sector, as a financial package, said the statement.

Though the lockdown has been further extended, the trade body said industries should be allowed to resume functioning from May 24, at least in Bengaluru, where Covid cases have declined during the last 10 days.

"The Agriculture Producers Market Committee's (APMC) yards and businesses should be allowed to function from 6am to 6pm from May 24 to recover from the losses they have suffered due to the lockdown, " Sundar said.

The trade body also urged the government to permit inter-district movement of people in trade and services sectors.

In a related development, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (FKCC) urged the chief minister to grant aid to all working in the Kannada film industry, popularly known as Sandalwood, as they have been facing financial crisis due to the extended lockdown.

"About 18, 000 people employed in Sandalwood have been without work since April 27 when the lockdown was imposed and extended by another 5 weeks, " said KFCC secretary N M Suresh in a memorandum to the chief minister.

Though the state government has given a financial package to people working in other sectors on Wednesday, those working in the Kannada film industry have been left out of it.

The chief minister announced a Rs 1, 112-crore relief package to people working in the unorganised sector, as they have been in distress since the lockdown has deprived them of earning.

The beneficiaries include farmers, growers, barbers, tailors, housemaids, auto and taxi drivers, weavers, construction labour and folk-artiste troupes.

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