GUWAHATI, April 9 - Many government websites are flooded with various investment and business development schemes launched by both the State and the Central governments. But, ahead of the general elections, city-based businessmen alleged that the environment for trade has been deteriorating day by day in the State with all benefits going to the big players.
�The business community of the State has been badly affected due to the recent tax policy of the government. It is true that both the State and the Central government have announced various schemes to boost trade and attract investments. But, such steps are yet to touch the local businessmen. There is an urgent need to take steps to protect and promote our local businessmen by our elected representatives,� said businessman Arup Kumar Choudhury during a conversation with this correspondent.
Choudhury alleged that none of the government schemes on trade and commerce, especially in Assam, does anything for the small scale traders in both urban and rural areas.
�In urban and rural areas, many lower middle class people have been running various small scale businesses. If the government really wants to develop the commerce sector, then those businessmen should get the priority. Even in Guwahati, street vendors cover most of the business share, but they are yet to get any help from the government side,� he alleged.
�The State government is doing injustice to the small and middle class business community. The GST and the new rule on labour tax have also created havoc among us. Despite various appeals from our side, the State government is yet to formulate a proper solution,� said another city-based businessman Nekib Eman Saikia.
According to Saikia, from the past few years in the State, many industries have been closed down. It takes place due to failed policies of the government, he said.
�Our elected representatives should encourage the new generation to set up business entities. It is the only solution to mitigate the unemployment problem in the country, as there has always been a dearth of government jobs. But, today, the new generation is deprived from receiving loan from banks. There is no government aid for them to run a business. Even after implementation of the GST, many business houses curtailed the number of staff to avoid losses, which has created a serious problem for the middle class,� Saikia said.
He asserted that increase in the number of shops in an area does not mean development of the business sector there, if there is a lack of proper trade policies.
�In Assam, there is an urgent need of such policies, both in the agriculture and business sectors. We have to develop both the sectors for real development in the State. Already, our business sector has been occupied by outsiders, so the State government has to help the new generation of businessmen,� he said.
Criticizing anti-vendor steps of the government, Naren Rajbongshi, a street vendor of Guwahati said, �Street vendor are all lower middle class people. They don�t get any benefit from government schemes, because the State government is yet to issue licences to us. We have no official recognition, even deprived from availing the MUDRA loan. The authorities concerned harass street vendors of the city by carrying out eviction drives.�
�Today, in Guwahati, setting up of shopping malls in every nook and corner has created a threat to small scale businessmen. All small scale businessmen of the city are poor and local people who migrated from various parts of the State to the city in search of livelihood. So the government should take steps for their development,� Rajbongshi said.
According to Rajbongshi, at present around 46,000 vendors are running businesses in various parts of the city.
�Providing rice at Re 1, free toilets and houses are not the solutions to our problems. We need to live a life with dignity,� he lamented.
Promod Mour, a pharma businessman, said, �The recent government steps to implement online system in the pharmaceutical sector created a lot of confusion among us. The government announced a single-window clearance system, but it was never implemented.�
�The next generation may not continue the business if such a situation continues. The business class is diminishing gradually in the State. The government should take steps to address the issue,� Mour appealed.