Millennium Post

City traders say they feel left out

The 2017 Union Budget had taken into account the adverse effects of demonetisation and as expected, has been pegged as a 'pro-poor Budget', as the salaried middle class and the farmers were provided the lion's share of the Budget.

But the BJP's core constituency — the traders — believe that they have been left out in the Budget. They have claimed that there were no radical changes to correct the adverse effects of demonetisation and have pegged Arun Jaitley's speech as a "cosmetic juggling of facts".

The traders based out in Central Delhi's Chandi Chowk area believe that they are being taken for granted, as the 'pro-poor' Budget is a poll gimmick. Speaking to Millennium Post, Pradeep Gupta, President of Chemical Merchants Association said: "This Budget has not taken the traders into consideration. The wholesale markets in the Walled City have been suffering from a slump due to the cash crunch and it will take a year to rectify the same. We thought that they would come up with radical measures but this Budget was a cosmetic juggling of facts."

Inside the Walled City, the wholesale traders, many of them who have voted for the BJP, have now claimed that the party, in a bid to win over the poor and the middle-class, have taken them as a granted voting bank.

Many of them had recently attended a meeting with the BJP state president, Manoj Tiwari, in which they were asked about their expectations from the Budget and how the demonetisation move had benefited them. "For the first time, I saw traders venting their ire. Many of them had decried the move and then told Tiwari to take them to Red Fort and shoot them with cannons," Pradeep added.

The reason for the widespread disenchantment was fall in the sales of various wholesale markets which have forced many of them to focus on Chinese goods. "The citric making industries have collapsed, the Chinese flood out markets with their cheaper products and since it's an essential commodity, we can't refuse them. The campaign to ban Chinese goods was an eyewash. We have somehow managed to make ends meet despite the cash crunch," said Sushil Goel, who works at Tarun Chemical Company in Tilak Bazar.

Many traders have also welcomed the move to reduce the tax slabs to 5 per cent for those in the tax slab of Rs 3-5 lakh and the tax free limit raise to Rs 3 lakh. They believe that this will improve the spending of the middle-class bringing in the much needed cash flow in the market. Yogesh Singhal, vice-president, The Bullions and Jewellers said: "This is a good Budget, it will bring relief to the common man and also the 25 per cent tax against the earlier 30 per cent for companies with a turnover of Rs 50 crore will boost growth for the traders."

But there are many jewellers who believe that the war against black money has hit them the hardest, as they claim that their entire trade has been painted as corrupt. After the Budget, many of them are now waiting for tax raids. "They caught 15-20 bank managers and then gave the banking industry a clean chit. But they have been conducting raids from Delhi to Mumbai and have painted us as corrupt. Now people trading in gold are seen as smugglers. Nobody wants to be seen with us. I fear taking even Rs 1 lakh to conduct business as I fear the raids. We want to give tax but there are no incentives to provide us with social security like the farmers," said a jeweller based in Kucha Mahajani.
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