By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, Dec 14 (IANS) Demonetisation has hit markets across Jharkhand — be they big or small — and the overall business volume in the state is down by about 40 per cent, traders say.
From roadside vendors to builders, all have been affected equally, though the worst-affected are the daily wage-earners. As construction work has come to a grinding halt, they are finding it difficult to eke out a living.
“We were engaged in the construction of a building. But the work has stopped since demonetisation, and we have been left to fend for ourselves,” said Kunti Devi, a daily wage labourer.
“Every day we go out in search of jobs and have been able to get work only on seven out of the last 35 days,” she lamented.
Not only construction workers but vegetable sellers and other small traders also have been badly hit by demonetisation. Vegetable prices have also declined sharply.
Green peas, which was selling for Rs 100 per kg before demonetisation, is now not selling at Rs 45 per kg, and the price of capsicum has slipped to Rs 15 per kg from Rs 40 per kg.
As a fallout of demonetisation and less circulation of notes of smaller denominations, people and shopkeepers are often found arguing over returning the change.
While Shopkeepers say they do not have lower-denomination notes, the people blame the government for the problem, saying what can they do if the banks and the ATMs are spitting out only 2,000 rupee notes.
Take a look at the capital’s most busy market, which has both retailers and wholesalers — selling various items of daily use, like fruits, vegetables, poultry and dry fruits. Traders are reporting less business — almost down 60 per cent — due to lack of lower-denomination notes.
“What can we do if every person comes with a Rs 2,000 note? How can we give away all our change for small purchases,” asked Arif, a shopkeeper.
On the government’s initiative to boost cashless transactions, the shopkeepers said cashless business is not possible in this kind of a market.
They also point out that if they start cashless transactions, then they would have to pay two per cent tax, which is not feasible due to the very small margins with which they operate.
Moreover, since perishable items like fruits cannot be stored for long, they have to sometimes sell those cheaper to prevent greater losses.
Other merchants and traders are also reporting losses of about 25-30 per cent. They say that since demonetisation, the purchasing power of the people has shrunk substantially and they are spending their money very cautiously.
Jewellers are also bearing the brunt of demonetisation. According to a jewellery shop owner, business of small traders has been adversely hit despite this being the wedding season.
Moreover, the prices of gold too have taken a dip and with ‘Kharmas’ (inauspicious month) commencing, things will only get worse, he said.
People are also finding it difficult to consume their high-denomination notes at petrol pumps. Across all prominent petrol pumps, one would find salesmen refusing petrol of Rs 100-Rs 200, if a Rs 2,000 note is proffered.
They argue that they are also short of small-denomination notes and that if a purchase of around Rs 2,000 or a higher amount is made, only then would it be possible for them to accept the Rs 2,000 notes.
The impact of demonetisation can also be seen in restaurants, cinema halls and multiplexes of the state, which are also reporting lesser turnouts.
(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)