Business sentiment was never this low: Manpreet Singh Badal after meeting traders
“Whether it is sweet shop owners, electrical goods sellers or tailors, the pain and anguish of shopkeepers is visible. Business sentiment has never been so low,” Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said in a tweet Sunday, after visiting various markets in Bathinda.
On Saturday, Manpreet visited more than 400 shops in Dhobi Bazar, Post Office Bazar and few other markets where he took feedback from shopkeepers while Sunday he visited various mohallas to talk to locals.
Gursharan Singh, president of Dhobi Bazar market association said, “Shops have opened, but even now customers are not coming to market. Many shopkeepers are not even able to give salary to their employees. These are difficult times. It felt good that the finance minister came and talked to us. Koi bimaar da haal puchhda hai taan bimari taan nahi theek hundi, par halka mehsoos hunda hai. Beopar chaluga taan hi sarkar chalegi (By sharing your woes, your illness may not be cured, but one feels good. The government can function only when businesses flourish.)”
Gursharan, whose shop deals in pagri, said, “People are only buying ration. They look for other things only if they are in dire need.”
Dhobi Bazaar had hardly any customers Saturday afternoon and the traffic on the otherwise congested road was bare minimum when Manpreet, who is also Bathinda Urban MLA, reached there to interact with shopkeepers.
Rajinder Kumar Bittu, who owns showroom dealing in women’s garments, said, “People have no plans to buy garments as of now. We hardly make any sales even though we open the shop every morning with a hope”.
Manpreet, while talking to Bittu, said, “I know you are running into losses. Do let me know if you need any support from my side”.
With folded hands, he visited over 400 shops in the market.
Sudhir Kumar, who too owns a women’s garments shop, said, “So far, we have not got any scheme to support us, but at least someone from the government asked about our well being. It was a good gesture on part of the finance minister. Hopefully, some relief measure will also be announced.”
Kalu Ram, a physically challenged man who runs a roadside tailoring shop, was provided with a new tricycle within an hour after Manpreet saw that the one he was using had broken down.
Gursharan Singh said,”We asked the finance minister to at least get the parking issue of our market resolved and if beautification of market can be taken up. We are hopeful that customers will start coming out by October-November. We have asked government to solve our market problems by then”.
On Sunday, he met people in residential areas such as Paras Ram Nagar, Amarpura Basti, Hari Nagar, and Lal Singh Nagar where he also thanked those who have been providing food to the needy.
“Lockdown has affected people from every segment and business sentiment has been hit hard. Despite that people followed instructions and remained indoors. I am visiting all markets in Bathinda to learn about their immediate needs and requirements,” Manpreet said.
So far, it was the first such exercise by any Congress MLA.
“I tried to boost the morale of shopkeepers and told them that the government is with them in this difficult time,” Manpreet added.