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Industry leaders push for National Retail Policy at Retail Samvad meet

By Retail4Growth Bureau | January 23, 2023

The fifth edition of Retail Samvad, organised by the India Centre for Policy Research and Governance (ICPRG) in association with METRO Cash & Carry India, had retail industry leaders discussing changes required for small retailers to thrive and for the retail industry to contribute better to India’s economic growth.

Nityanand Rai, Minister of State for Home Affairs of India along with Arvind Mediratta, MD & CEO of METRO Cash & Carry India

As part of the ongoing initiatives to support MSME's and Small Retailers, India’s apex association-India Centre for Policy Research and Governance (ICPRG) in association with METRO Cash & Carry India organized the fifth edition of ‘Retail Samvad - Future of Small Retail: Empowering small retailers & MSMEs to make them future ready’. 

The conclave was graced by Nityanand Rai, Minister of State for Home Affairs of India and Surjit Bhalla, Economist and Former Executive Director, IMF who unveiled the recommendation report of previous Retail Samvad deliberation. 

While speaking at the Retail Samvad deliberation, Shri Nityanand Rai, Hon’ble Minister of State for Home Affairs of India, said, “The soul of India lies in its small towns and villages and they are the driving force behind the growth of the retail sector. The Indian retail industry offers a vast opportunity for the youth of the country to succeed and thrive. The sector also empowers 130 Cr citizens of the country and is the true backbone of India’s growing economy. Through thought-provoking deliberations like Retail Samvad, we can gain valuable insights to empower and strengthen the retail sector in India, thereby contributing to the country's overall progress towards self-reliance or Atmanirbharata.” 

Surjit Bhalla, Economist and Former Executive Director, IMF for India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, while speaking about the Indian economy in the inaugural address, said, “This decade can certainly be termed as ‘India’s decade’. India is currently the fastest growing economy and we are at the cusp of globalization 2.0, thanks to the series of viable economic reforms post-2014, such as in the domain of the PLI scheme, Bankruptcy law, Cash transfers to farmers, GST, social reforms in the area of sanitation, among others. However, though policy reforms have been good, their implementation needs to improve. The more transparent the policy is, the better will be the implementation. Also, many regulations in India are unnecessary and need to reduce. Going forward, even though India will be hit by global inflationary trends, the impact would be less as our internal growth processes continue to remain strong. In the retail sector, the Government has a major role to play in making credit available to MSMEs. Credit availability and credit price, both are indispensable.”  

The first-panel deliberation was on ‘Policy interventions required for Sustainable Development of Indian Retail Sector’, wherein sector experts discussed policy interventions and access to formal economic facilities, financial inclusion along with digitalization interventions that are required to help boost consumption, generate employment opportunities, and improve cash flows and profitability for them.

Speaking at the Samvad, Arvind Mediratta, MD & CEO of METRO Cash & Carry India, said, “It is very pertinent that the Government considers a separate Retail ministry that can exclusively address the challenges that the retail sector faces. Retail is the second largest provider of livelihood after agriculture. Going forward, we need to offer small retailers a level playing field and even though the single window clearance scheme is a major reform for the sector, we need to ensure it's implemented on the ground. We also need a uniform retail policy across all states and simplification is key for the implementation of the policy. The retail policy must cover aspects like FDI, ease of doing business, labour laws, and the regulations in the sector also need to reduce.”

Speaking on the trajectory of the retail sector, Thakur Bhaskar, Sr. Executive Vice President, Head Liability Products and Merchant Acquiring Business, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said, “Small retail is witnessing good growth trajectory, leveraging technology and digitization, even across smaller cities and towns. Digital literacy will enable small retailers to store their data digitally, which enables banks to extend credit facility to them. Digital ways of doing business will therefore solve a lot of current challenges that small retailers face, even when it comes to accessing affordable credit from organised sources.” 

The conclave was attended by eminent leaders from the Retail industry, think tanks, experts from the government and policy space, industry associations, corporate leaders, fintech experts, start-ups, economists and industry analysts, and academicians amongst others. The industry experts shared their thoughts on what kind of changes are required in the retail space to provide equal opportunity for small retailers to thrive and how the retail industry can contribute better to the economic growth of the country.

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