Bhopal: Traders in Madhya Pradesh are unhappy with the economic policies of BJP-ruled centre and the state government. Following a slew of failed economic policies, the trading community of the state have decided to vote out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the ensuing assembly election scheduled for November 28.
The traders of financial capital of the state – Indore – were known supporters of the BJP. Testimony to this is the fact that of the nine assembly seats of Indore division, the BJP had won eight. However, due to the disappointment of the strongest lobby of the state, this time, the picture is looking grim.
General Secretary of Ahilya Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) Sushil Sureka claimed that the two biggest economic reforms in a short span– Demonetisation and Good and Services Tax (GST) – have broken the backbone of business community and reduced them to penniless status.
“Alone, in Madhya Pradesh there has been a dip of 40 to 50 per cent in businesses and 15 to 20 per cent in unemployment. Hundreds of small business shops have been shut or are in the verge of shutting down,” said Sureka adding that only two sectors are still booming - automobile and mobile.
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Sureka, who is also one of the architects of the MP VAT (Value Added Tax) Act, is a master on GST and explained that in the complexity faced by traders for complying with the order, the basic idea of GST - ‘One nation, one tax’ - has ben lost somewhere.
Commenting on the complexities in GST compliance, Sureka said, “Traders do want to support and follow the GST, but procedural complexities have been spoiling their charm towards this new indirect regime. And they are spending a lot of their earnings on the accountants.”
Traders claimed that the Narendra Modi government missed a golden opportunity to do a makeover of the old and complex business policies, and introduce single window policies and taxation system to make business easier, but, instead, they introduced the complicated GST.
“Earlier governments were never problematic like this BJP. We had high hopes from the BJP government. But neither the government made any business friendly policies nor tried to listen traders’ problems and fix them,” said secretary of the Cloth Market Merchant Association (CMMA), Indore, Kailash Mugar.
He further claimed that the state government have developed nothing, especially in Indore, as a result, the textile hub has been turned into a trading market.
Aiming to persuade the disappointed traders, BJP chief Amit Shah recently visited Indore. Soon after, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited Indore to lure them but the business community is in no mood to relent.
Rising fuel prices and waning business activities in the region has already been haunting the traders. Industrialists are also blaming the government for not fulfilling the promises and ignoring small scale industries. The worst-hit small scale industries of the region have expressed displeasure against government policies that led to the fall in business activities, drop in employment and poor industrial infrastructure.
President of Malwa Chamber of Commerce, Ajit Singh Narang said, “We repeatedly put our demand in front of the state as well as union government, but most of them went unheard and we were sent back with assurances.
When questioned if the BJP Chief or CM Chouhan has attempted to meet traders during their recent visits, they replied that they only meet with the like-minded people or their party workers.
Kailash Mugar said, “The irony is, they never meet the real traders or talk with the traders’ association or even discuss their problems. Instead, they only meet with those traders who are associated with their party and have never expressed their concern over the issue.”
Commenting on the upcoming assembly poll, ACCI general secretary Sureka said, “The trading community is angry with the BJP and there is a strong possibility that their anger may go against them in assembly poll.”
While the traders are complaining about the failure of the economic policies in benefiting the businesses in the state, the state government data of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises portray a different picture. The data shows a 30 to 35 per cent jump every year in registration, investment and employment.
To attract investors to Madhya Pradesh, the state government held five investor summits, starting from 2007 to 2016, but failed in their motive.
Of the 2,357 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) signed at the four summits since 2007, only 92 projects have been commissioned while more than 1,728 are under various stages of implementation and the rest 537 have been cancelled. In the Global Investor Summit 2016, the government claimed that there has been realisation of interests to the tune of Rs. 5,62, 887 crore from 2,630 companies, but even after two years nothing can actually be seen on the ground.
A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (ASSOCHAM) titled ‘Analysis of Madhya Pradesh: Economy, Infrastructure & Investment’, said, “Poor physical and social infrastructure development has demotivated private sector participation and led to a dismal show in the state’s performance on the investment front.”
While officials blame the cancellations, especially in mining sector, on environmental clearances, there have been several instances where investors were either not serious or capable enough to set up industry or the government failed to provide a conducive atmosphere.