Agrofood Chamber of Commerce and Industry has requested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to give an IT exemption for small retailers with an annual turnover of up to ₹3 crore in the ensuing Union Budget as their survival is under threat.

Due to unethical competition like corporate predatory pricing policies, most small retailers, especially in the grocery sector, are on the verge of closure after the pandemic onslaught.

“There is no enactment to protect small retailers at par with MSME Act. Closure of businesses will only lead to job losses at a time new jobs are hard to come by. IT exemption will make them organised and an enactment should be passed to protect small and medium retailers,” said S Rethinavelu, President of Madurai-based Agrofood Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

While GST revenue collection averages ₹1.5-lakh crore per month and indirect tax collection is expected to exceed the budget estimate, there is a need to analyse the growth in tax contribution by smaller establishments, especially small retail traders, he said in a statement.

Retailers are the backbone of the economy contributing 10 per cent to the GDP. Over 12 million grocery retailers operate in the country, of which 60 per cent are small retailers with turnovers of less than ₹3 crore a year.

These retailers are not financially strong to adapt to the latest transformation. While they do not give any financial burden to the government, they provide huge employment.

“We request for protection of small retailers as we did for the SSI sector by providing excise duty exemption up to ₹1.5 crore in those days,” Rethinavelu said.