Organised retail loses Rs 90k cr in 2 months, SCAI seeks adequate relief

woman holding smart phone while shopping in supermarket

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) on Monday said the organised retail sector has lost over Rs 90,000 crore in the last two months, owing to the lockdown, and market players need much more than the repo rate cut and the loan moratorium extended by the RBI.

In a statement, the industry body said that the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) relief measures are not adequate to support the liquidity needs of the industry.

According to the SCAI, there is a common misconception that the shopping centres’ industry is centred around metros and large cities with investments only from large developers, private equity players and foreign investors.

“However, the fact is that most malls are part of the SMEs or standalone developers. i.e. more than 550 are single owned by standalone developers out of the 650-odd organised shopping centres across the country and there are 1,000+ small centres in smaller cities,” it said.

Amitabh Taneja, Chairman of SCAI, said: “The organised retail industry is in distress and has not earned anything since the lockdown and their survival is at stake. While the extension of the loan moratorium talks about some relief on repayment but won’t help the industry in liquidity.”

He said that a long term beneficial plan from the government is much required to revive the sector.

“Being the most safe, accountable, and controlled environment, unfortunately, malls have not been permitted to open, which will lead to job losses and might even shut shops for a lot of mall developers,” Taneja said.

In its representations to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India, the association has also pointed out that, in absence of financial package and stimulus from the RBI, over 500 shopping centres may go bankrupt, that may lead to the banking industry staring at NPAs of Rs 25,000 crore.

The industry body has put forward its recommendations and requests to the government. It had sought moratorium till March 2021 at the least in terms of repayment of bank loans, interest, EMI and so on, without levy of any penalties or penal interest.

It has also sought a one-time loan restructuring with lower rates of interest, permitted for shopping centres and a facilitative and forward-looking support provision of short-term financing options for a period of six to 12 months, at lower interest rates, to meet the increased working capital requirements.

Among other relaxations, it had also appealed for GST rebates to offset the losses on account of and for the period of closure of business.

It also said that interest rates should be brought down to “manageable levels” of 5-6 per cent in view of the precarious financial situation.

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