At a time when the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is imposing restrictions on power consumption, the traders in the state are a depressed lot owing to increased expenses.
The business of small traders has decreased by at least 20-25 per cent and their profit margin has shrunk considerably. It is estimated that the profit margin of small-scale traders was reduced to below 10 per cent after the power tariff hike last July. Since Kochi is the commercial capital of the state, the impact of power restriction is felt more in the city.
K N Marzook, chairman of Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the small traders in the city are on the verge of extinction with the power tariff hike and restrictions on power usage.“The operating cost has increased by more than 15 per cent after the recently imposed power curbs. The situation now is that the business is declining and the cost escalating. This is dangerous for the traders. Customers will be the ultimate losers because the power restrictions would force traders to increase cost,” he said. In his opinion, the rising living cost forces the common man to remain at home rather than go out and shop.
Even a small shop consumes more than 500 units a month. Hence the decision to control power use will adversely affect the traders, said Binni Immatty, president, Kerala State Vyapari Vyavasayi Samithi.
“There will be a substantial increase in the inflation figures because of the hike. Ultimately the burden will be on the common man,” he said.
Reflecting the same opinion, K P Ramachandran Nair, state president of Kerala State Small Industries Association, said that it is high time the government intervened to solve the power crisis.
“There are lakhs of traders at every nook and cranny of the state. The government is taking a stand against the very survival of traders which is a matter of great concern. Power tariff hike and restrictions on power usage were like a double blow for them. The government should chalk out some plans which will help traders overcome the crisis,” he said.