SCAI seeks various relief to deal with second wave of COVID-19

The Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has urged various state governments to provide various relief measures, including waiver of property taxes and fixed electricity charges to deal with the impact of the second wave of COVID-19. The association has also requested the state governments to allow shopping centres and malls to start operations as soon as restrictions imposed are eased.

“We have written to all the state governments for waiver of property tax, fixed charges of electricity, signages and extension of licences tenure,” SCAI Chairman and Director on Board Mukesh Kumar told reporters on Thursday.

“Property taxes are the huge outgo for all the malls. When the malls are closed and we are not collecting money from everyone, how do you expect us to pay the property taxes,” he said.

Kumar, who is also the chief executive officer of Infinity Malls, said some of the state governments have partly waived off property taxes and fixed electricity costs.

Another director on board of SCAI, Rajneesh Mahajan, said mall operators have recently received the property tax invoices, and if some kind of relief is announced before the payment is made, it can give them some cash flow benefits.

Speaking about the association’s request for relief on operating licences, Mahajan said, “In the last 15 months, we have used signages for barely 3-4 months and we have paid taxes for two years.”

He added that similarly, for the restaurant, there are a lot of taxes that go for operating licences. “There should be some kind of support to the industry. Not only to mall owners but also to retailers in terms of operating licences.”

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The association also expects some relief from the Reserve Bank of India in terms of one-time restructuring and moratorium.

“For large infrastructure projects like malls where significant money is spent upfront, we have a lot of banking costs that we carry in our businesses. If the RBI allows some kind of moratorium, waiver on interest and restructuring of loans, it will be of great help for us,” Mahajan added.

Kumar further said all the malls put together in the country generate an average business of around Rs 15,000 crore per month.

According to him, the retail sector has lost around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 crore in the last two months.

Mahajan said that from an organised spaces perspective, malls have far more capabilities in cleaning, monitoring and implementing hygiene measures.

“Our floor marshals are there all the time to ensure that people are not gathering and we have deployed manpower to ensure that the hygiene and safety are maintained,” he said.

The entire industry has continued to support the government at all times, adhering to all protocols laid down for creating and ensuring a safe environment, he added.



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